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Frequency effects, what are they?

I need to write a research proposal for a PhD project and I have to relate it to ''frequency effects in language''.

Now, I'm not totally familiar with that. My thesis is supposed to be a psycholinguistic one about semantic processing of non-literal language.

I guess frequency effects can occur on the micro level (phoneme frequency), on an intermediate level (word frequency) or a macro level (such as syntactic structure frequency), right? But I assume they are referring to word frequency - right?

I'm sure for my topic focusing on word frequency is the most useful, isn't it?

Also, is there any very specific meaning of ''frequency effects'' or does that term refer to anything frequency can cause at all?

Thanks for making it possible that people can ask questions!

Diana

(Transferred from old LINGUIST List Ask-a-Linguist site)