|Title:||Causes and Consequences of Word Structure||Add Dissertation|
|Author:||Jennifer Hay||Update Dissertation|
|Email:||click here to access email|
|Institution:||Northwestern University, Department of Linguistics|
|Abstract:||This dissertation explores effects of speech perception strategies upon morphological structure. Using connectionist modeling, perception and production experiments, and calculations over lexica, I investigate the role of two factors known to be relevant to speech perception -- phonotactics and lexical frequency. First, I demonstrate that low probability phoneme transitions across morpheme boundaries exert a considerable force towards the maintenance of complex words. Second, I demonstrate that the relative frequency of the derived form and the base significantly affects the decomposability of complex words. This contrasts with wide-spread assumptions involving the role of the absolute frequency of the derived form. While many have claimed that high frequency forms do not tend to be decomposed, I argue that this follows only when such forms are more frequent than the bases they contain.
I demonstrate that the manner in which we tend to access a morphologically complex form is not simply a matter of prelinguistic speech processing. It affects many aspects of that form's representation and behavior, including semantic transparency, polysemy, pitch accent placement, and the production of individual phonemes.
The results described above provide us with two invaluable diagnostics for gauging the decomposability of a complex word -- does it contain a phonotactic cue to juncture, and is it less frequent than the base it contains? The resulting understanding of decomposition yields considerable progress on morphological problems such as productivity, level ordering phenomena, and affix ordering restrictions. While traditional approaches have focused on affixes, I argue that the properties of affixes can not be sensibly be detached from the properties of the specific words in which they appear.
Taken together, the results in this dissertation illustrate the tight connection between speech processing, lexical representations, and aspects of linguistic competence. The likelihood that a form will be parsed during speech perception has profound consequences, from its grammaticality as a base of affixation, through to fine details of its implementation in the phonetics.