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The University of Southampton
Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research

Humpty-Dumpty’s Problem: how do we put morphologically complex words back together again? Seminar

Languages, Cultures and Linguistics
16:00 - 18:00
19 October 2016
Building 65/Lecture Theatre C Avenue Campus SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Professor Roumyana Slabakova at .

Event details

Part of the annual seminar series for the Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research (CLLEAR).


Over the past 15 years, considerable evidence from a range of different languages and methodologies has converged to provide clear evidence that the early stages of processing linguistic stimuli involve a mechanism of form‐based morphological parsing, which operates across all potentially morphologically complex words, regardless of formal or semantic opacity (Rastle and Davis 2008, Lewis et al 2011, Royle et al 2012, Fruchter et al 2014, Gwilliams & Marantz, 2015, inter alia). Comparatively little attention, however, has been focused on how linguistic processing proceeds once morphological constituents have been identified.

In this talk I'll discuss the results of a number of recent and ongoing experiments using a range of methods to investigate how we rapidly access information about the constituents of morphologically complex words, and how we make use of this information to reassemble the pieces and evaluate their syntactic and semantic wellformedness. I'll focus much of the talk on 'fresh from the lab' data from a project with Alec Marantz, Laura Gwilliams and Kyriaki Neophytou (NYU) and Christina Manouilidou (UPatras) that we are just now analysing, in which we are investigating the neural spatio‐temporal dynamics of access to the lexical category vs. argument structure representations of verbal stems, in English and Greek. I'll argue that by focusing on the apparently simple question of how we detect and make use of information about morphological constituents, we can gain significant insight into the overall architecture of the human linguistic system.

Light refreshments will be provided. All welcome! 


Speaker information

Dr Linnaea Stockall, Queen Mary University of London. My work focuses on the earliest stages of linguistic information extraction and processing involved in the retrieval of individual words and parts of words, and in the combination of those pieces to form complex utterances. I am interested in how we store and process morphological constituents, how early, automatic morphological processing mechanisms handle irregularity, and how we assemble morphological constituents into interpretable words and phrases. I am also interested in how lexical semantic information is extracted and integrated into syntactic structures, and how those structures are interpreted, and in how the semantics of roots interacts with the syntax and semantics of functional morphemes. A great deal of my research centers on the morpho-syntax and morpho-semantics of verbs.

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