Paige Cooper-Rolefson, “Phonological and Morphological Information Influences Perceptions of Rhymes”
Mentor: Anne Pycha, Linguistics
We hypothesize that morphological complexity renders words more abstract in the minds of listeners. We tested this hypothesis by focusing on rhyming, which is a natural judgment that listeners make about how similar words are to one another. We compiled American English words into rhyming groups based on their morphology (how words are formed) and their phonology (the sounds within a language). Specifically, we compared simple words (those that cannot be further simplified, mind and kind or old and bold) and complex words (those containing multiple morphemes, banned and canned or nailed and sailed). In the lab, the participants used headphones to listen to pairs of words and rated the goodness of the rhyme on a scale of 0% (not rhyming at all) to 100% (completely rhymes). In accord with our hypothesis, we predict greater goodness scores for pairs of complex words, compared to pairs of simple words.