Morphology and Syntax

(Fiorentino, McKenzie, Minai, Pye)

These research areas center on the speaker’s knowledge of words, phrases, and sentences.  Syntax research seeks to understand the nature and interactions of the building blocks of phrase structures.  This includes discovering the kinds of abstract structural units that exist and the principles that govern their distribution.  Syntacticians are also concerned with how syntactic structures are interpreted by the phonological and semantic modules of the grammar.  Morphology concerns the representation of words and the units of which words are composed, morphemes.  Thus, morphologists are interested in the basic properties of morphemes, how they interact with each other, and the ways in which morphemes are accessed and interpreted by the syntax and phonology.  To an extent, morphology sits at interface of syntax and phonology.  At the same time, morphologists want to understand which principles of morphology are independent of the syntax or phonology.  At KU, research in syntax and morphology has a strong cross-linguistic component, especially in East Asian, African, and Native American languages.  The research is conducted through traditional methods like fieldwork and elicitation and using  experimental neurolinguistic  techniques such as magnetoencephlography (MEG), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and electroencephalography (EEG).


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