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Li8 Structure of English. Evidence for morphological structure. Morphology.

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li8 structure of english

Li8 Structure of English

Evidence for morphological structure


“Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself. Mankind. Basically, it’s made up of two separate words - ‘mank’ and ‘ind.’ What do these words mean? It’s a mystery, and that’s why so is mankind.”

Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts

  • Morphology is the study of morphemes and their behavior.
  • A morpheme is the minimal unit of meaning.
  • dogs contains 2 morphemes:
    • 1 dg ‘quadruped of the genus canis’
    • 2 -z ‘plural’
  • Note: morphemes  words
  • A word is the smallest element that can occur in isolation.
evidence for morphological decomposition and storage
Evidence for morphological decomposition and storage
  • New singulars
  • New morphemes
  • Psycholinguistic evidence
    • Rule-governed behavior
    • Priming studies
    • Event Related Potentials
    • Speech errors
    • Disorders
new singulars
New singulars
  • indice, homo sapien
new morphemes
New morphemes
  • -a/oholic
  • -burger
  • -gate:
    • Watergate, Fornigate
  • -head:
    • pothead, metalhead, techhead, gearhead, theoryhead, crackhead, hockey head
  • Mc-:
    • McMansion, mcjob, mcnews

It's true, I'm a Rageaholic...I just can't live without Rageahol!

mcdonald s not lovin mcjob dictionary definition
McDonald's not lovin' McJob dictionary definition

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP, 11-2003) -- McDonald's says it deserves a break from the unflattering way the latest Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary depicts its job opportunities. Among some 10,000 new additions to an updated version released in June was the term "McJob," defined as "low paying and dead-end work." In an open letter to Merriam-Webster, McDonald's CEO Jim Cantalupo said the term is "an inaccurate description of restaurant employment" and "a slap in the face to the 12 million men and women" who work in the restaurant industry.The company e-mailed the letter to media organizations Friday, and it also was published in the Nov. 3 edition of an industry trade publication. Cantalupo also wrote that "more than 1,000 of the men and women who own and operate McDonald's restaurants today got their start by serving customers behind the counter.“ McDonald's, the world's largest restaurant chain, has more than 30,000 restaurants and more than 400,000 employees. Walt Riker, a spokesman for McDonald's, said the Oak Brook, Illinois-based fast-food giant also is concerned that "McJob" closely resembles McJOBS, the company's training program for mentally and physically challenged people.

"McJOBS is trademarked and we've notified them that legally that's an issue for us as well," Riker said.

McJob (mkdZAb) n.

A low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement.

Source: Merriam-Webster Online

over regularization
  • went  goed  went
  • Happens c. late twos
  • Suggests acquisition of morphological rules
wug tests
Wug tests
  • Berko 1958
  • 3 surface manifestations of English regular plural /-z/: [z], [s], [əz]
  • When/how do children learn these rules?
  • Test paradigm
    • Children are presented with a pretend creature and told, "This is a wug."
    • Another wug is revealed, and the researcher says, "Now there are two of them. There are two __."
  • Results
    • Very young children are baffled by the question and are unable to answer correctly, responding with e.g. “two wug."
    • Children in grade 1 were almost fully competent with both [s] and [z].
    • Both preschool and first-grade children dealt poorly with [əz], giving the correct answer less than half the time, possibly because it occurs in the most restrictive context.
  • Major finding
    • The first experimental proof that young children have extracted generalizable morphological rules from the language around them.
productive irregulars
Productive irregulars

Overall Rate of Irregular forms supplied

  • Al Jallad, Flint, and Richardson 2005
  • Subjects come up with past tense for unfamiliar V.
    • 1. Jim BLINGS everyday.
      • Yesterday John __________________.
    • 2. Alan CHINES everyday.
      • Yesterday Alan __________________.
  • Subjects in the experiment
    • 26 children: age 6-7 (oral test)
    • 44 adults (written questionnaire)
  • Sample Over-Irregularizations
    • children
      • pake  pakeded
      • bling  blung, blang
      • flink  flunk
      • frim  frand
    • adults
      • mang  mung
      • shride  shrude
      • bling  blank
      • morget  morgot
      • tind  tind

Individual Differences in Irregularization: bars show percentages of subjects making 0-20% irregulars, 20-40% irregulars etc.

  • McKinnon et al. 2003.
  • Observation
    • Pronounceable non-words (flermuf) elicit larger-amplitude N400 components than words (muffler).
  • Prediction
    • If readers treat non-words containing non-productive morphemes (in-ceive) as unanalysed wholes, then these non-words should elicit larger N400s than matched words (receive).
  • Results
    • Bound-stem non-words elicit a brain response highly similar to that elicited by real words.
  • Conclusion
    • Morphological decomposition and representation extend to non-productive morphemes.
broth brothel brother
  • Rastle et al. 2004
    • Participants made visual lexical decisions to stem targets preceded by masked primes sharing
      • (a) a semantically-transparent morphological relationship with the target (e.g., cleaner-CLEAN);
      • (b) an apparent morphological relationship, but no semantic relationship, with the target (e.g., corner-CORN);
      • (c) a non-morphological form relationship with the target (e.g., brothel-BROTH).
    • Results showed significant and equivalent masked priming effects in cases in which primes and targets appeared to be morphologically related, and priming in these conditions could be distinguished from non-morphological form priming.
    • These findings suggest a level of representation at which apparently complex words are decomposed based on their morpho-orthographic properties.
morphological errors
Morphological errors
  • Morpheme exchange
    • slicely thinned
  • Feature shift
    • have to went for had to go
  • Faulty access
    • have teachenforhave taught
    • concludement for conclusion
  • Experimentally controlled morphological errors…
janssen and humphreys 2002
Janssen and Humphreys 2002
  • General logic:
    • If a string of phonemes with an identifiable meaning can move independently during a speech error, it is a production unit, with a separate, independent representation at some cognitive level.
      • Inflectional morphemes (e.g. -ed, -ing, -s) are much more error prone than derivational morphemes (e.g. -er, -ness, -able, -ion) (Garrett 1980, Humphreys, 2002).
      • Can we also find experimental speech error evidence of derivational decomposition?
      • Prediction:
        • If derivational morphemes are stored independently from their stems, more morphological speech errors should occur when -er is a real morpheme than when it is only a pseudo-morpheme.
  • elicited morphological errors from speakers by presenting a series of word quads, made up of two pairs. Speakers read these words silently, after which they disappeared. Speakers were occasionally cued to respond aloud, as quickly as possible, to the immediately preceding item. Speakers had to then either repeat the previous phrases exactly, or had to swap words between the phrases. The critical pairs each consisted of an initial ller word plus a critical word stem or stem+affix.
  • More affix errors occurred on the morphologically complex forms than on the pseudo-morphs.
  • Conclusion: derivational affixes are also stored as separate morphemes.
lexical disorder
Lexical disorder
  • Badecker 2001
    • CSS (65 years old) suffered a left cerebro-vascular accident in 1990, resulting in lexical impairments manifested in reading, repetition, and oral and written naming tasks.
    • Apart from word-finding problems, CSS’s spoken output is fluent and he exhibits no apparent comprehension impairment.

naming from definition

Slender-bodied insect with broad, often brightly-colored wings.


picture naming


monomorphemes: 80% correct

doctor fly


wheel pill

polymorphemes: 50% correct!

semantic disorders
Semantic disorders
  • “Deep dyslexia” = semantic errors during reading
  • Buchanan et al. 2003
    • Deep dyslexic patient (JO, 48, L temporo-parietal lobectomy)
      • Acquired reading disorder characterized by production of:
        • morphological errors (e.g., SLEEP read as SLEEPING)
        • semantic errors (e.g. HEART read as BLOOD)
  • Method
    • Manipulate transparency in compound word naming study
  • Results
    • 94 stimuli
    • 10 read correctly; 9 of these were TT
    • Transparent components read correctly more often
    • Key point: if there were no decomposition, all compound types should show the same error rate
    • Response to PANCAKE:
      • cake, breakfast, man,. . .cake, man. . .cake, mancake, man, man, p-, p-, cake, birthday, breakfast, cake, p-a-n. . . cake, syrup...
      • Typical semantic error: [target] cake  [output] birthday (shows decomposition)
      • NB 2nd and last attempts are semantic associate for the whole compound (BREAKFAST, SYRUP)
        • Shows successful access of meaning of the compound, even though she never manages to say the whole thing
  • Conclusion
    • JO can successfully parse compound into constituents and access meaning of the whole; the errors occur after this point
deep dyslexia
Deep dyslexia
  • Rastle et al. 2005
    • Observation:
      • Deep dyslexics often make morphological errors in reading aloud
      • e.g. sexist read as sexy
    • Two competing explanations:
      • representations are morphologically structured
      • low imageability/frequency word modified to visually similar word of higher imageability/frequency) (Funnell 1987)
    • Prediction:
      • Theory 1 predicts more stem errors with morphologically complex words (killer) than with pseudosuffixed words (corner) and monomorphemic words (cornea) when one equalizes for imageability and frequency.
      • Theory 2 predicts no difference between these 3 categories.
    • Result:
      • Theory 1 (but not Theory 2) supported
regular vs irregular
Regular vs. irregular
  • Ullman et al. 1997, Ullman 2001 propose that:
    • the left inferior frontal cortex (along with the basal ganglia) is involved in rule-based computations
    • Irregular forms dealt with differently
    • Prediction:
      • A lesion to this region should impair only regular morphological processes, sparing the ability to produce irregular morphology.
    • Test:
      • Four types of patients: Parkinsons, Alzheimers, anterior aphasics, and posterior aphasics
      • Patients were asked to perform a sentence completion task requiring the production of a verb in the past tense
      • E.g. “Every day I dig a hole. Just like every day, yesterday I ____ a hole”
    • Results:
      • anterior aphasics and Parkinson patients performed worse with regular than irregular verbs
      • the opposite for posterior aphasics and Alzheimer patients
    • Conclusion:
      • Results consistent with theory that the left frontal cortex and basal ganglia are involved in rule-based language processing but not in the processing of irregular morphology, and that temporal lobe areas are implicated in the storage of lexical forms.
  • But…
regular vs irregular1
Regular vs. irregular
  • Problem with Ullman’s theory
    • Agrammatic (Broca’s) aphasics who perform worse on irregular than regular morphological transformations (producing irregular V forms)
      • patient RC (Shapiro & Caramazza 2003)
      • patient MR (Laiacona & Caramazza 2004)
      • Spanish-Catalan bilinguals (Caramazza et al. 2004)
    • Consistent with the classical view that left inferior frontal cortex is involved in morphosyntactic processing and not just in rule-based transformations.
  • Humans decompose words into morphemes and store them as such.
  • Both regular and irregular/restricted morphology involve rule-governed (de)composition.
    • blang, inceive, Broca’s aphasics
  • Humans look for morphological structure even when there isn’t any.
    • cheeseburger, corner

Andrews, S. 1986. Morphological influences on lexical access: Lexical or nonlexical effects? Journal of Memory and Language, 25, 726-740.

Andrews, S., B. Miller, & K. Rayner. 2004. Eye movements and morphological segmentation of compound words: There is a mouse in mousetrap. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology 16:285-311.

Badecker, William. 2001. Lexical composition and the production of compounds: evidence from errors in naming. Language and Cognitive Processes 16.4.

Buchanan, Lori, Shannon McEwen, Chris Westbury, and Gary Libben. 2003. Semantics and semantic errors: Implicit access to semantic information from words and nonwords in deep dyslexia. Brain and Language 84:65–83.

Caramazza, Alfonso, Alessandro Laudanna, and Cristina Romani. 1988. Lexical access and inflectional morphology. Cognition 28.

Fiorentino, Robert. 2006. Masked priming of compound constituents: Implications for morphological decomposition. Manuscript, University of Maryland.

Janssen, Dirk and Karin Humphreys. 2002. Morphological speech errors on agentive and comparative affixes. Third International Conference on the Mental Lexicon, Banff, Canada.

McKinnon, R., M. Allen, & L. Osterhout. 2003.  Morphological decomposition involving non-productive morphemes: ERP Evidence. Neuroreport 14:883-886.

Marslen-Wilson et al. 1994. Psychol Rev 101:3-33.

Rastle, Kathleen, Matthew Davis, and Boris New. 2004. The Broth in my Brother’s Brothel: Morpho-Orthographic Segmentation in Visual Word Recognition. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 11.6:1090-1098.

Rastle, Kathleen, et al. 2005. New evidence for morphological errors in deep dyslexia. Brain and Language 97:189-199.

Shapiro, K., & Alfonso Caramazza. 2003. Looming a loom: Evidence for independent access to grammatical and phonological properties in verb retrieval. Journal of Neurolinguistics 16:85-111.