Morphological Representations In Lexical Processing

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This dissertation integrates insights from theoretical linguistics and the psycholinguistic literature through an investigation of the morphological representations involved in auditory lexical processing. Previous work in theoretical morphology, spoken word recognition, and morphological processing are considered together in generating hypotheses. Chapter 2 provides theoretical and methodological background. Theoretical linguistics is considered a subset of psycholinguistic inquiry. I argue that this perspective is beneficial to both subfields. Modality is a crucial theme: most work investigating morphological processing involves visual presentation, whereas this dissertation exclusively examines the auditory modality. Experimental work in this dissertation uses primed auditory lexical decision. Important considerations for this methodology are discussed in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 explores the role of morpho-phonological representations through a novel experimental design which examines the sensitivity of phonological rhyme priming to morphological structure, specifically, the extent to which stems of complex words are available for rhyme priming. Results suggest that phonological rhyme priming can facilitate phonological representations without facilitating syntactic representations, consistent with an architecture in which phonological and syntactic representations are separated. Furthermore, there is a directional asymmetry for the effect: stems in complex words are available for rhyme priming in targets but not primes. This asymmetry invites attention to the time-course of auditory morphological processing and a theoretical perspective in which syntactic and phonological recombination are considered separately. Chapter 4 concerns the processing of inflectional affixation. A distance manipulation is incorporated into two studies which compare word repetition priming to morphological stem priming. The results are informative about the time-course of the effects of representations involved with inflectional affixation. Furthermore, the results are consistent with abstract and episodic components of morphological priming which can be attributed to stem and recombination representations respectively. Finally, a morphological affix priming study focuses on the representation of the inflectional affix. Results are consistent with an account in which affixes are isolable representations in memory and therefore can be facilitated through identity priming. To summarise, by combining insights from theoretical linguistics and the psycholinguistic literature, this dissertation advances our understanding of the cognitive architecture of morphological representations and generates hypotheses for future research.

David Embick
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