Dissertation Proposal Defense: Creemers

Ava Creemers will be defending her dissertation proposal on Friday 
December 14 at 1pm. The defense will be held in the 
Linguistics Library. 

Please see below for abstract and title.



(Working) Title: Morphological processing and the effects 
of semantic transparency
Advisor: David Embick
Proposal Committee: Kathryn Schuler, Florian Schwarz, 
Meredith Tamminga
The proposed dissertation aims to provide empirical evidence 
for the theoretical construct of a ‘morpheme’ that is 
independent of semantic and phonological overlap. 
Specifically, the dissertation investigates ‘irregular 
word-formation processes’ by looking at multi-morphemic 
words that are semantically opaque. These words are crucial 
to test predictions of different models of lexical access, 
as they allow us to investigate whether morphological 
processing occurs in the absence of semantic overlap or 
interactions. Traditionally, these irregular words have been 
argued to be memorized in their full form in the mental 
lexicon (cf. Aronoff 1976; Bloomfield 1933; Chomsky 1965; 
Jackendoff 1997). However, preliminary results on opaque 
Dutch prefixed verbs presented in the dissertation are in 
line with a Full-Decomposition view of the lexicon (Stockall 
and Marantz 2006; Taft 1979; Taft and Forster 1975; see also 
Embick and Marantz 2005), providing evidence for the view 
that morphologically complex words are derived syntactically 
by the grammar from their constituent morphemes (Embick 2015).

Building on the extensive prior literature from both 
theoretical linguistics and experimental psychology, my 
thesis takes the insights from linguistic theories to probe 
questions about morphological relatedness using an auditory 
primed lexical decision paradigm. In particular, the 
dissertation investigates the processing of the following 
types of words: (i) Dutch prefixed verbs, which may differ 
in meaning relatedness between the stem and the complex verb 
from fully transparent (e.g., aanbieden ‘offer’) to fully 
opaque (e.g., verbieden ‘forbid’, with the stem bieden 
‘offer’); (ii) English suffixed words like treatment and 
its relation to a pseudo-derived word like pigment; and 
(iii) compound words, which range from fully transparent 
(e.g., bedroom), to partially opaque (strawberry or 
staircase), to fully opaque (deadline). Together, these case 
studies provide novel data that investigate how (putative) 
multi-morphemic words are accessed and represented in the 
mental lexicon during auditory word recognition.
Date: 
Friday, December 14, 2018 - 1:00pm - 3:00pm
Location: 
Linguistics Department Library (3401-C Walnut Street, room 301C)