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LINGUIST List 19.2380

Wed Jul 30 2008

Diss: Morphology/Psycholing: Koester: 'Morphology and Spoken Word ...'

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        1.    Dirk Koester, Morphology and Spoken Word Comprehension: Electrophysiological Investigations of Internal Compound Structure


Message 1: Morphology and Spoken Word Comprehension: Electrophysiological Investigations of Internal Compound Structure
Date: 30-Jul-2008
From: Dirk Koester <d.koesterfcdonders.ru.nl>
Subject: Morphology and Spoken Word Comprehension: Electrophysiological Investigations of Internal Compound Structure
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Institution: Universit├Ąt Leipzig
Program: Psychology
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2004

Author: Dirk Koester

Dissertation Title: Morphology and Spoken Word Comprehension: Electrophysiological Investigations of Internal Compound Structure

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science
                            Morphology
                            Psycholinguistics
                            Semantics
                            Syntax

Subject Language(s): German, Standard (deu)

Dissertation Director:
Angela D Friederici
Thomas C Gunter

Dissertation Abstract:

The present work investigated morphosyntactic and lexical-semantic aspects
of German compounds in auditory word comprehension. Previous studies were
conducted in the visual modality or else concentrated exclusively on
semantic aspects. The question of whether and how compound constituents are
accessed from the mental lexicon during auditory comprehension was
addressed in five experiments using the method of recording event-related
potentials. In order to see whether compounds are decomposed, the
availability of morphosyntactic gender information of initial and last
constituents was determined whereby the last constituent determines all
(morpho)syntactic features of a compound in German. In a next step, the
processing of linking elements, which are often identical with plural
morphemes, was explored. The relevant question here was whether or not
initial constituents marked with a linking elements might be processed as
plural forms. In addition, the comparison of easy vs. difficult to
integrate novel compounds, and semantically transparent vs. opaque
compounds provides evidence concerning the temporal dimension of
lexical-semantic integration of compound constituents. The first experiment
established the left-anterior negativity (LAN) as a reliable marker for the
decomposition in novel compounds. A LAN was observed in response to initial
and last constituents if they were gender incongruent. A second experiment
replicated this effect for low-frequency transparent and opaque compounds,
and a control experiment suggests that the effects are not due to the
experimental set-up. While these gender effects suggest morphosyntactic
decomposition, an N400 effect of number incongruity could be observed only
for the last constituents. That is, linking elements do not function as
plural morphemes. In a follow-up experiment the null effect in response to
linking elements was shown to be due to prosodic cues that differentiate
compounds from single nouns. The lexical-semantic integration of
constituents is suggested to begin during the final constituent, which
mostly determines the semantic category of the compound. Difficult and
transparent compounds elicited a negativity with an N400-like scalp
distribution in comparison to easy and opaque compounds, respectively. It
is suggested that prosodic cues are used to initiate the morphosyntactic
decomposition of compounds. However, morphosyntactic representations are
not specified for number by linking elements, and the lexical-semantic
integration begins during the last constituent.



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