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VAR: Morpho-phonetic variation in English

Principal Investigators

Mercator Fellow

Research Assistants

Marie Engemann M. A.

Simon Stein M. A.


In the second funding period, VAR will continue to address the major question of how morphological structure may manifest itself in the acoustic properties of complex words. The answer to this question has important implications for theories of phonology-morphology interaction and models of speech production.

The project will investigate two promising areas, the phonetics of derived words and compounds on the one hand, and the phonetics of inflectional stems on the other. For derived words we will test whether the acoustics pattern according to strata, according to prosodic constituency, according to morphological category, or according to individual words and their lexical properties (such as their segmentability). For inflected word-forms we will investigate the phonetic properties of stems that end in homophonous suffixes (as opposed to investigating the suffixes themselves, as in the first funding period).

The project will use data from speech corpora and from production and perception experiments to test various competing hypotheses about potential morphological effects on the phonetic and phonological properties of complex words, and the reflexes these effects may have for morphological processing and speech production and perception.

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