Monthly Archives: January 2020

Spring 2020 Schedule

Date Speaker Title
1/22/2020 First day of classes
1/29/2020 Joanna Morris (Hampshire College & RISD) Is there a ‘moth’ in mother? How we read complex words (and those that are just pretending to be)
2/5/2020
2/12/2020
2/19/2020 Maksymilian Dabkowski (Brown) The morphophonology of A’ingae verbal stress
2/26/2020 Casey Lew-Williams (Princeton) Infants learn from meaningful structure in their communicative environments
3/4/2020 Masoud Jasbi (Harvard) The Puzzle of Learning Disjunction
3/11/2020 Lauren Franklin (Brown) TBD
3/17/2020 Rachel Burdin (University of New Hampshire) CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19 TBD
3/25/2020 Spring Recess
4/1/2020 Athulya Aravind (MIT) CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19 TBD
4/8/2020 Shiying Yang (Brown) CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19 TBD
4/15/2020
4/22/2020 Youtao Lu (Brown) TBD
4/29/2020 Misha Ali (Brown) TBD TBD

LingLang Lunch (1/29/2020): Joanna Morris (Hampshire College & RISD)

Joanna Morris is a professor of cognitive science in the school of Cognitive Science at Hampshire College is is also teaching at RISD. Her work focuses on the cognitive processes that underlie reading. Her current research is focused on examining how complex words—words with multiple parts like sing-er and un-happy are represented in the mental dictionary. For more information, her website is here.


Is there a ‘moth’ in mother? How we read complex words (and those that are just pretending to be).

Skilled readers identify words with remarkable speed and accuracy, and fluent word identification is a prerequisite for comprehending sentences and longer texts. Although research on word reading has tended to focus on simple words, models of word recognition must nevertheless also be able to account for complex words with multiple parts or morphemes. One theory of word reading is that we break complex words into their component parts depending on whether the meaning of the whole word can be figured out from its components. For example, a ‘pay-ment’ is something (the ‘-ment’ part) that is paid ( the ‘pay-’ part); a ‘ship-ment’ is something that is shipped. However a ‘depart-ment’ is not something that departs! Thus ‘payment’ and ‘shipment’ are semantically transparent, while ‘department’ is semantically opaque. One model of word reading holds that only semantically transparent words are broken down. Other models claim that not only are all complex words —both transparent and opaque—decomposed, but so are words that are not even really complex but only appear to be, i.e. pseudo-complex words such as ‘mother’. My research examines the circumstances under which we break complex words into their component parts and in this talk I will address how this process may be instantiated in the brain.

Brown at the LSA

There are several presentations by Brown students and faculty in this year’s annual meeting for the Linguistic Society of America. Come and meet us!

  • Uriel Cohen Priva, Shiying Yang, and Emily Strand will present their talk on The stability of segmental properties across genre and corpus types in low-resource languages. Thursday, 5 pm, at the Kabacoff room.
  • Ellie Pavlick will talk about What Should Constitute Natural Language “Understanding”? as an invited speaker of this year’s SCiL (Society of Computation in Linguistics). Friday, 11 am, at the Kabacoff room
  • Uriel Cohen Priva will present his poster American English vowels do not reduce to schwa: A corpus study. Friday Morning Plenary Poster Session.
  • Roman Feiman will be a discuss Conceptual and linguistic components of early negation comprehension at Perspectives on Negation: A Cross-Disciplinary Discussion workshop. Saturday, 2:55 pm at Chart B.
  • Uriel Cohen Priva and Emily Gleason will present Increased intensity is mediated by reduced duration in variable consonant lenition. on Saturday, 2 pm at Camp
  • Youtao Lu and James Morgan will present Homophone auditory processing in cross-linguistic perspective on Sunday, 11:30 am at Jackson.