Linguistics Colloquium: Mark Aronoff (Stony Brook)

OCT 18, 2018 | 4:15 PM TO 6:00 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




October 18, 2018: 4:15 PM-6:00 PM




Mark Aronoff (Stony Brook) presents:

New methods give answers to old questions: the morphology of English spelling
English is the most widely used written language in the world, yet its writing system has been derided since the beginning. Its basis remains a puzzle. Writing systems tend to encode two levels of language: lexical or phonological. Recent findings reveal that modern-day English spelling, unlike almost all others, also encodes individual affixes, even at the expense of phonological consistency. For example, the word-final coda /l̩/ is reliably spelled as <al> when the word is an adjective and in as <le> or <el> otherwise. The system self-organized gradually over the last half millennium, following well-understood principles of competition that govern all evolution, from physics to culture. Although the questions that we address are far from new, research on them has become possible only very recently, because answering the questions has required electronic resources and methods that were not available to those who first asked them.

Thursday, October 18th, 2018, 4:15pm - 6pm Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave, room 6417
All are welcome!  
Refreshments to follow in room 7400