Distributed Morphology and Neurolinguistics
Linnaea Stockall, Laura Gwilliams
November 2022

Constructivist morphological theories in general, and Distributed Morphology (henceforth DM) in particular, are theories about how morphosyntactic elements are combined via the core syntax to create complex structures, and how those morphosyntactic structures are converted into phonological and semantic representations, themselves subject to further computation within those spellout domains. The theory is concerned with the architecture of the system that generates morphologically complex words in the mind of the speaker, before these representations are converted into instructions for an articulatory system or translated into representations that are interpretable by the conceptual system. In this sense, then, it is predominantly a theory about language production. Morphological processing research, by contrast, especially research using the tools of cognitive neuroscience, has overwhelmingly focused on language comprehension, which fundamentally alters the direction of the information flow. Figure 1 sketches how the core architecture of DM would need to be adapted to serve as a model of language comprehension. The goal of this chapter will be to review the existing research, engaging with each of the following processes and/or architectural distinctions that this model entails: 1. Form based morphological decomposition that provides the entry point into the grammatical system, and relies on ‘unpacking’ Phonological Form operations (such as readjustment rules, phonological rules and competitive vocabulary insertion) 2. Access to a stored mental lexicon of Vocabulary Items, both roots and function morphemes, critically restricted to only grammatically relevant features, determined by the PF representations identified in (1) 3. Recombination of the constituent elements subject to syntactic structure building constraints operating over the features activated in (2) 4. Compositional semantic interpretation of the structures generated in (3)
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006928
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Cambridge Handbook of Distributed Morphology
keywords: neurolinguistics, morphology, brain, language, distributed morphology, morphology
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