The Polysynthetic Lexicon: Word Retrieval and Learning in Paradigmatic Systems

Monday, 17 February 2014
Gold Coast (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Joyce McDonough , University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Complex ‘polysynthetic’ word formation, common in indigenous languages of North America, makes for a very different kind of word finding than isolating language like English. Each word in such languages is embedded in dense neighborhoods of related words. Dense neighborhoods have been shown to impede lexical retrieval in English, but polysynthetic languages are still effective. We show how the Dene languages organize word forms into paradigms to efficiently achieve word retrieval and learning.