A Psycholinguistic Investigation of the Verbal Morphology of Maltese

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/194996
Title:
A Psycholinguistic Investigation of the Verbal Morphology of Maltese
Author:
Twist, Alina Evelyn
Issue Date:
2006
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
This dissertation focuses on the unique aspects of Maltese morphology brought about by its genetic and geographic history. The experiments conducted and described here build on past research in Indo-European languages and new research in other Semitic languages to determine how different word formation systems function. Applying experimental techniques to the study of Maltese is crucial for two reasons. First, though Maltese is a Semitic language, recent extensive contact with English has greatly impacted its vocabulary and the structure of its verbs. Though the effects of persistent language contact is pervasive, clear and systematic differences may be observed between native Semitic verbs and those borrowed from English. Secondly, unlike other Semitic languages, the Maltese writing system uses the Roman alphabet. This allows for tests that require the reading of written stimuli to be performed in the same writing system as previous studies in Indo-European languages, eliminating a number of confounding factors.A masked priming experiment asked Maltese speakers to judge whether or not test items were words of their language. The test items included real and nonce verbs of both Semitic and English origin. Accuracy rates and reaction time were recorded and compared across speakers. The results of this experiment support the psychological salience of the consonantal root as a unit of lexical organization.An elicitation experiment asked native speakers of Maltese to provide a verb form that corresponded to a given noun or adjective. The test items were nouns of Semitic and English origin and non-words constructed to resemble such nouns. Responses were broadly transcribed and analyzed for their similarity to the expected patterns. The results show that speakers are able to use two morphological strategies to form new words. The factors affecting the choice between morphological systems include linguistic structure and social variables.Collectively, this pair of experiments indicate that the consonantal root is a viable morphological and psychological unit of lexical organization, supporting a search-based approach to lexical access. Furthermore, speakers are able to form new words on the basis of whole words, showing that this level of organization must also be present to facilitate lexical access.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
Maltese; lexical access; verb morphology; masked priming; loan words; Semitic
Degree Name:
PhD
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Linguistics; Graduate College
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Ussishkin, Adam P.
Committee Chair:
Ussishkin, Adam P.

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoENen_US
dc.titleA Psycholinguistic Investigation of the Verbal Morphology of Malteseen_US
dc.creatorTwist, Alina Evelynen_US
dc.contributor.authorTwist, Alina Evelynen_US
dc.date.issued2006en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractThis dissertation focuses on the unique aspects of Maltese morphology brought about by its genetic and geographic history. The experiments conducted and described here build on past research in Indo-European languages and new research in other Semitic languages to determine how different word formation systems function. Applying experimental techniques to the study of Maltese is crucial for two reasons. First, though Maltese is a Semitic language, recent extensive contact with English has greatly impacted its vocabulary and the structure of its verbs. Though the effects of persistent language contact is pervasive, clear and systematic differences may be observed between native Semitic verbs and those borrowed from English. Secondly, unlike other Semitic languages, the Maltese writing system uses the Roman alphabet. This allows for tests that require the reading of written stimuli to be performed in the same writing system as previous studies in Indo-European languages, eliminating a number of confounding factors.A masked priming experiment asked Maltese speakers to judge whether or not test items were words of their language. The test items included real and nonce verbs of both Semitic and English origin. Accuracy rates and reaction time were recorded and compared across speakers. The results of this experiment support the psychological salience of the consonantal root as a unit of lexical organization.An elicitation experiment asked native speakers of Maltese to provide a verb form that corresponded to a given noun or adjective. The test items were nouns of Semitic and English origin and non-words constructed to resemble such nouns. Responses were broadly transcribed and analyzed for their similarity to the expected patterns. The results show that speakers are able to use two morphological strategies to form new words. The factors affecting the choice between morphological systems include linguistic structure and social variables.Collectively, this pair of experiments indicate that the consonantal root is a viable morphological and psychological unit of lexical organization, supporting a search-based approach to lexical access. Furthermore, speakers are able to form new words on the basis of whole words, showing that this level of organization must also be present to facilitate lexical access.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectMalteseen_US
dc.subjectlexical accessen_US
dc.subjectverb morphologyen_US
dc.subjectmasked primingen_US
dc.subjectloan wordsen_US
dc.subjectSemiticen_US
thesis.degree.namePhDen_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineLinguisticsen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorUssishkin, Adam P.en_US
dc.contributor.chairUssishkin, Adam P.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberWarner, Natashaen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberForster, Kenen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberFarwaneh, Samiraen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberHill, Janeen_US
dc.identifier.proquest1833en_US
dc.identifier.oclc659746378en_US
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