Causes and Consequences of Word Structure

Janet Pierrehumbert, Northwestern University

April 7, 2000


View Seminar Video

Abstract

How are complex words stored and accessed? This answer to this question plays a crucial role in both in models of speech perception and in models of morphological productivity. Understanding the forces which lead words to be stored and accessed as wholes versus in more decomposed forms is critical for identifying the relevant domains of generalization for speech processing and for the emergence of morphological productivity.

This talk will explore ways in which frequency information is used in establishing the structure of speech signals and of words in the lexicon. It will consider both effects related to phonological pattern frequency and those related to relative lexical frequency. It will argue that experimental findings support a model in which a Fast-Phonological-Preprocessor, possibly formed in infancy, interacts with a dual-route morphological analyzer to determine both the long-term configuration of the lexicon and more implicit knowledge of phonology more generally.

 

Biography

Janet Pierrehumbert is Professor of Linguistics at Northwestern University. She received her Ph.D from MIT in 1980 and joined the faculty Northwestern faculty in 1989 after seven years as a Member of Technical Staff in Linguistics and Artificial Intelligience Research at AT&T Bell Laboratories. Her research interests include intonation, prosody, allophony, and lexical representation. With Mary Beckman, she coauthored the monograph Japanese Tone Structure. She co-organized the Fifth Conference in Laboratory Phonology, which took place at Northwestern in 1996. Professor Pierrehumbert has held visiting appointments at Stanford, the Royal Institute of Technology, and most recently at the CNRS in Paris as a Guggenheim fellow.