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Title: The phonological encoding of complex morphosyntactic structures in native and non-native English speakers
Author: Wynne, Hilary Suzanne Zinsmeyer
ISNI:       0000 0004 6424 5453
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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Theories of phonological word formation (e.g. Selkirk 1980, 1986; Nespor & Vogel 1986; Lahiri & Plank 2010) assume that prosodic units are not isomorphic with syntactic units. However, the prosodic status of compounds remain uncertain, at least in so far as language planning and phonological encoding is concerned. Theories are not transparent about the prosodic status of compounds: although a noun-noun compound in English consists of two lexical words (and therefore two prosodic words), it can also act as a single prosodic item by exhibiting main stress on the first unit and carrying inflection. Thus the question remains controversial - should these items be treated as a single prosodic unit, similar to a monomorphemic word, or as two distinct units for the purpose of post-lexical representation? Recursive word formation may suggest that compounds are a single unit. Psycholinguistic evidence measuring speech onset latency in native speakers of Dutch and Portuguese also shows compounds being treated as single prosodic units (Wheeldon & Lahiri 1997, 2002; Vigario, 2010). Although recent studies have produced evidence for the prosodification of compounds in native speakers, little is known about the process in non-native speakers. Our research questions are as follows: what is the post-lexical planning unit in English, and how do non-native fluent speakers of English plan these units for the purpose of phonological encoding? To investigate our hypotheses, we focus on the phonological encoding of compounds with and without encliticisation, for native and non-native speakers of English. In a series of delayed priming tasks, we found overwhelming evidence that reaction times reflected the total number of prosodic units in the target sentence. In online tasks, however, speech latencies only reflected the size of the first prosodic unit. Taken together,these results suggest that, despite containing two lexical and prosodic words, English compounds are planned as single prosodic units, exhibiting encliticisation and reaction times similar to those of monomorphemic words. As shown by the results in this study, this naming paradigm has proved extremely beneficial for eliciting data about the structure of prosodic units in speech production. Not only was it successful for native speakers of Dutch, European Portuguese, and English, we also found that it was easily implemented into a study of post-lexical encoding in non-native speakers of English.
Supervisor: Lahiri, Aditi Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English language--Phonology ; English language--Prosodic analysis ; English language--Compound words ; English language--Study and teaching--Foreign speakers