The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Phonology Circle 10/18- Ari Goldberg

Join us for this week’s Phonology Circle Presentation:

Speaker: Ari Goldberg (Tufts University)
Title: Gradient effects of consonant similarity and morphological boundaries
Time: Monday 10/18, 5pm, 32-D831

Functionalist accounts of the OCP propose that the dispreference for similar and repeated items originates in the limitations of the production and perception systems. The difficulty processing repeated elements in sequence (Berg, 1998; Frish, 2004) and the biomechanical effort needed to articulate homorganic consonants (Walter, 2007) are hypothesized to over time lead to an underrepresentation of words with repeated/similar consonants. I argue that an important prediction of any functionalist account of the OCP is that the severity of the effect should decrease across morpheme boundaries. Psycholinguistic theories hold that morphemes are processed relatively independently of each other (e.g., Dell, 1986) and it has been shown that articulatory gestures are less tightly coupled across morpheme boundaries (Cho, 2001). This means that sequences that are dispreferred on serial order or articulatory grounds within morphemes may be easier to process when present across morphemes. I report oral reading reaction time data from the English Lexicon Project that support this claim. Significant inhibitory effects of consonant similarity are found both tautomorphemically and heteromorphemically, with a weaker effect across morpheme boundaries than within. Within multimorphemic words, the effect is modulated by the likelihood that the word is processed via whole-word vs. compositional routes (Hay, 2003). Suffixed words that are more “multimorphemic” show weaker effects of consonant similarity than suffixed words that are more “monomorphemic”. The implications of these findings for typological patterns in heteromorphemic and tautomorphemic environments will be discussed.

Upcoming talks:
Oct 25: Youngah Do (MIT)
Nov 1: Sverre Stausland Johnsen (Harvard)
Nov 8: Natalie Boll-Avetisyan (Potsdam)
Nov 15: Michael Kenstowicz (MIT)
Nov 29: RUMMIT Practice talks
Dec 6: Suyeon Yun (MIT)

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