Project Overview

Phonotactic effects on morphological structure – Psycho-computational studies on Italian, French, English and German

How do phonotactics and morphology interact in language processing?

This project aims to investigate the role of phonotactic knowledge in the processing of morphologically complex words.

It tests native speakers of different languages to promote a cross-linguistic perspective on how speakers rely on the formal properties of words to uncover their functional structure. It therefore tries to go beyond traditional anglo-centric accounts of phonotactics, introducing the study of languages with richer morphology and different average word length.

It simulates the formation of human phonotactic knowledge through a computational system based on the notions of phonotactic activation and phono-morphological profile. PHACTS (for ‘Phonotactic Activation System’) is an attempt at implementing the hypothesis of the interplay of local phonotactic constraints and global attractions among lexical items in the emergence of psychologically salient mechanisms of morphological processing.

The psycho-computational model strives for high levels of psychological plausibility inasmuch as each computational simulation has a counterpart on the behavioral side; the two experimental outputs are directly correlated.

 Previous work on PHACTS:

B. Calderone & C. Celata (2010) “The morphological impact of micro- and macro-phonotactics. Computational and behavioral analysis”, 14th International Morphology Meeting, Budapest, Hungary, 13-16 May, 2010.

B. Calderone & C. Celata (2011) “Paradigm-aware morphological categorizations”. Lingue & Linguaggio 20 (2).

B. Calderone & C. Celata (2012) “PHACTS about activation-based wordlikeness effects”. In Proceedings of the EACL 2012 WS on Computational Models of Language Acquisition and Loss, 12-19, Avignon.

B. Calderone, C. Celata & I. Herreros (2008) “Recovering morphology from local phonotactic constraints”. In P. Warren (ed.), Laboratory Phonology 11, Victoria University of Wellington:

C. Celata & B. Calderone (2011) “Restrizioni fonotattiche, pattern lessicali e recupero delle regolarità morfologiche. Evidenze computazionali e comportamentali”, in Linguaggio e cervello / Semantica, Atti del XLII Convegno della Società di Linguistica Italiana (Pisa, Scuola Normale Superiore, 25-25 settembre 2008). Roma: Bulzoni. 47-72. Volume 2 (CD ROM) (2011).

C. Celata, B. Calderone & F. Montermini (2011) “Enriched sublexical representations to access morphological structure: A psycho-computational account”. In N. Hathout & F. Namer (eds.), Towards Morphology and Beyond, special issue of TAL-Traitement Automatique du Langage 52 (2) (2011).



CLLE-ERSS, CNRS/ Université de Toulouse

5 Allées Machado

31058 Toulouse (France)


Scuola Normale Superiore

P.zza dei Cavalieri 7

56100 Pisa (Italy)