Are super-complex words represented like sentences in speakers' minds?

By examining speakers' knowledge of super-complex words in the remote Australian language Wubuy, this project seeks to challenge our views on the concept of what a 'word' is and thereby the foundations of language description and speech processing.

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Many Australian languages defy this common-sense distinction by having very complex words with meanings that English would require a sentence to express.

This project aims to show that the dichotomy is unfounded, by examining speakers’ knowledge of super-complex words in the remote Australian language, Wuguy, using innovative ‘low tech’ experimental approaches suited for field research but rarely attempted.

The results will change our view on the concept of what a ‘word’ is, and thereby the foundations not only of language description but also of speech processing.

Sponsor

Australian Research Council Discovery Project (2018-2021)

Project team

Associate Professor Brett Baker

Research partners

Professor Janet Fletcher
Dr Rikke Bundgaard-Nielsen (Western Sydney University)

Contact

Associate Professor Brett Baker