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The XMorph (=eXperimental MORPHology) Lab is associated with David Embick and and is part of the Department of Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania.

We are investigating a number of questions in lexical and morphological representation and processing. An important theme in our work is using the auditory modality to probe questions in this domain. One of our overarching goals is to carefully examine the predictions of decompositional approaches to morphology in the mental lexicon, in a way that integrates theoretical and experimental approaches.

Many of the questions that we have looked at or are investigating now center on finding evidence for (or against) specifically morphological representation and processing, independent of semantics and phonology. Some specific topics include:

  • The question of whether inflectional affixes are represented in the same way that stems and derivational affixes are;
  • Looking at evidence for morphological representation by contrasting morphological priming (e.g. frogs-> frog) with repetition priming (frog-> frog);
  • The effects of semantic transparency and opacity on processing, and whether or not semantically opaque words are decomposed;
  • Comparing and contrasting the representation of “falsely” decomposable words with words that clearly appear to have internal structure;
  • The time-course over which different analyses of morphological structure are produced and compared with the incoming speech signal;
  • The trade-off between abstract (lexical identity) and episodic (talker identity) information in speech processing.

For our research output, see the Publications page.

We work closely with Meredith Tamminga and the Language Variation and Cognition Lab.  Many of the techniques that we employ are also used in an ongoing collaboration with Tim Roberts of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where we use neuroimaging to examine auditory processing and language in autism spectrum disorders; see here for research output.

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