Dissertation research, funded by a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation and internal grants from the Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Institute and the Graduate and Professional Student Council (UA). Public Dissertation Defense Slides: [slides] Presented at the 31st CUNY Sentence Processing Conference, 7 Mar 2018 [poster] Preliminary Maltese results discussed at UoM's Linguistics Circle, 19 Oct 2017 [slides] Presented at the Morphological Typology and Linguistic Cognition workshop, 22 July 2017 [semi-interactive poster] Presented at the Roots V workshop, 17 June 2017 [poster] Presented at Mental Lexicon 2016, 20 Oct 2016 [poster]
Learning root-and-pattern morphology involves tracking non-adjacent dependencies: In words ABCD and AHCF, A predicts the presence of C, but doesn't predict the presence of the second element in the string. Previous work shows that artificial grammars mimicking root-and-pattern morphology and vowel harmony are quite difficult for adults to learn. However, previous research also shows that when an artificial grammar has elements of a speaker's native language (such as vowel harmony), those speakers are better able to learn the artificial grammar with analogous structures. My research looks at this in root-and-pattern morphology across native English speakers, native Arabic speakers, and native Maltese speakers.
Manuscript to appear (Morphology). Presented at the 90th Meeting of the Linguistics Society of America, 10 Jan 2016 [slides] Presented at the 5th International Conference on Maltese Linguistics, 25 June 2015
Maltese is an especially interesting language morphologically speaking because its lexicon is split between Semitic words and Indo-European words, both of which take their respective morphological structures. I used a wug task to find out whether native Maltese speakers use a morphological diminutive (like 'wuglet') or a lexical diminutive (like 'little wug') when encountering novel words. I also used this task to find out whether native speakers would use Semitic morphology when encountering a novel word that sounded Semitic, and Indo-European morphology when encountering a novel word that sounded Indo-European.
Cascaded semantic activation
Bell, D., Forster, K., & Drake, S. (2015). Early Semantic Activation in a Semantic Categorization Task with Masked Primes: Cascaded or not? Journal of Memory and Language, 85, 1-14. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2015.06.007
If activation is cascaded, the assumption is that semantic properties of the input word are linked to other words in the lexicon; thus, semantically related words should show a congruence effect in a categorization task with a masked prime. Over several experiments, we show that semantic activation is typically not cascaded, and the categorization task alters how the masked prime is processed.
Psycholinguistic theories of the lexicon vs Distributed Morphology
Presented at Mental Lexicon 2016, 21 Oct 2016. [poster]
Psycholinguistic theories of the structure of the mental lexicon may be more compatible with the framework of Distributed Morphology than at first glance. If the two frameworks are married, there is further potential for theoretical linguistics and psycholinguistics to continue to inform each other to create more accurate theories with greater explanatory ability.
Maltese broken plurals
With Dr. Rebecca Sharp (University of Arizona) Presented at the 6th International Conference of Maltese Linguistics, 8 June 2017. [slides]
Like Arabic, Maltese has a system of both sound (regular) and broken (irregular) plurals. We are building a parser that will predict the form of a broken plural using real and nonsense words, and those intuitions will be tested via acceptability ratings and a wug test with native Maltese speakers.
Effects of bilingualism on morphological variation in Maltese
Forthcoming in Coyote Papers: Working Papers in Linguistics, conference proceedings for Arizona Linguistics Circle. Presented at Arizona Linguistics Circle 10, 4 Dec 2016 [slides]
It is well known that bilingualism affects various types of metalinguistic knowledge. Further, dominance in a particular language can affect how morphological and syntactic structures are used in a language. I investigate this in Maltese, where individuals are bilingual in both Maltese and English, but are dominant users of one of those languages.
Lily words: Morphophonological dissimilation in English