The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Colloquium 4/17 - Aditi Lahiri

Speaker: Aditi Lahiri (University of Oxford)
Title: In support of asymmetric phonological representations
Date: Friday, April 17th
Time: 3:30-5:00p
Place: 32-141

Word recognition has less impediments than one might expect although no word can ever be pronounced in an identical fashion even by the same speaker. I would like to defend our model, the Featurally Underspecified Lexicon (FUL), which claims that variation in speech can be resolved by assuming that the representation of words is phonologically sparse. The assumption is that privative underspecified feature representations, which can account for a number of asymmetries typical and pertinacious in synchronic and diachronic phonological systems, are also responsible for asymmetries at the onset of word recognition. The acoustic signal is converted into phonological features by roughly defined acoustic parameters which are then mapped on to the lexical representation using a three-way matching logic ranging from a perfect match, no-mismatch to mismatch along with a coherence metric which is used to evaluate the ‘strength’ of the matching features. The talk will present a phonological sketch of the model along with evidence from a series of psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic experiments from German, English and Bengali. .