On resolving lexical and postlexical variations in language comprehension: The role of the mental lexicon

Mathias Scharinger (Dr. phil), Linguistics




When Degree University
1999 Intermediate Exam University of Konstanz
2001 B.A.Hons First Class Canterbury University Christchurch, New Zealand; Linguistics (major) & Literature [2000 Jan-2001 Dec]
2003 M.A. University of Konstanz; General Linguistics (major), German Literature Arts & Media Sciences
2006 PhD (November) University of Konstanz, Linguistics

PhD Thesis

"The representations of vocalic features in vowel alternations: Phonological, morphological and computational aspects


The proposal is that vowel inventories are best described by phonological feature representations where there are no dependencies between tongue height (aperture) and place feature.  Two case studies (German and New Zeland English) provide evidence for the differential representation of the vowels according to whether they do or do not occur in grammatical alternations. The evidence stems from acoustic analyses, speech perception, psycholinguistic (behavioral lexical decision tasks) and neurolinguistic (EEG) experiments as well as from language change.

Electronic Book (Library of the University of Konstanz)


Current appointment:

Postdoctoral research fellow

Graduate Appointments

1998-2000 Undergraduate Research  Assistant, University of Konstanz
2002 Computer Technician Assistant
2002-2006 Research and Teaching Assistant, University of Konstanz


Alumni Prize for MA, University of Konstanz
University Exchange Fellowship (Canterbury University, Christchurch, New Zealand)

Research Grants

DAAD (German Academic Exchange Organisation): Visiting Fellow at Canterbury University of Christchurch, New Zealand (December 2004 – February 2005)

Research Areas

Phonology: Feature Theory, Phonology-Morphology interaction, Constraints on phonological change, Morphologization
Phonetics: Acoustic cues for features; perception of spectral and temporal features; Phonological cues in speech recognition; automatic speech recognition with features
Psycholinguistics: Phonological representation, parsing and lexical access; morphological organisation in the mental lexicon; resolving post-lexical phonological variation
Neurolinguistics: Neuronal evidence for feature-based phonological representations; processing of morphologically complex words
Morphology: Modelling of regular and irregular inflection, organization of inflectional classes


2002  Dual Difficulties? Lexical Access and German Irregular Verbs within a Featurally Underspecified Lexicon. Masters Thesis
2006 The Representation of Vocalic Features in Vowel Alternations. Phonological, Morphological and Computational Aspects (PHD Thesis). Konstanz: Konstanz Online Publication System (http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:bsz:352-opus-24341)
2006  Featural representations of the New Zealand English short front vowels. Paper presented at the Eleventh Australasian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology 2006, University of Auckland
2007 Minimal representations of alternating vowels. Lingua (special edition), In press
2007 (with Aditi Lahiri & Henning Reetz) Morphological encoding via phonological features. From phonetics to grammar. Paper presented at the 16th International Conference of Phonetic Sciences 2007, University of Saarbrücken
2007 (with Aditi Lahiri & Henning Reetz) Representation and processing of morphologically regular but phonologically opaque alternations, Submitted to Cognition
2008 Phonological height differences in English dialects: consequences for processing and representation. Revisions submitted to Language and Speech
2008 (with Carsten Eulitz & Aditi Lahiri): Neurophysiological evidence for sparse representations of alternating vowels in word stems. Under review
2008 (with Henning Reetz & Aditi Lahiri): Levels of regularity in inflected word form processing. Revisions submitted to The Mental Lexicon
2008 (with Henning Reetz & Frank Zimmerer): When "beating" becomes "house": Factors of /t/-deletion in German. In preparation

Talks and Presentations

Invited Talks

2004 Workshop “Basic Mechanisms of Speech Perception”, Schloss Freudental: Mixed Feelings? Irregular Verbs: The rule that proves the exception (January 17th)
2004 Workshop “Speech perception by human and not-so-human”, Schloss Freudental: Vowel raising in the present tense (July 2nd)
2005  Amherst Phonology Group, UMass: Height and place underspecification in vowels of New Zealand English and German and its relevance for speech recognition (November 11th)
2007 Stanford University Linguistic Department Colloquium: Phonetic Variation in Speech Perception and Lexical Access (February 13th)
2007 DGfS (Linguistic Society of Germany) Annual Conference: Minimal representations of alternating vowels: Evidence from ERPs

Conferences (reviewed abstracts)

2006 The 14th Manchester Phonology Meeting, Manchester: To umlaut or not to umlaut: Feature conflict in production versus perception (Poster Presentation, May 26th)
2006 The 2nd Conference of German Junior Researchers, Konstanz: Auf dem Weg nach oben: Neuseeland-Englische Vokale und ihre Spezifizierung im mentalen Lexikon (Oral Presentation, December 1st)
2006 The 11th Australasian Speech Science and Technology Conference, Auckland: Featural representation of the New Zealand English short front vowels (Oral paper presentation, December 6th)
2007 The 15th Manchester Phonology Meeting, Manchester: From allophony to allomorphy: The case of German umlaut (Poster Presentation, May 25th)
2007 (with Aditi Lahiri & Henning Reetz) The 16th International Conference of Phonetic Sciences (ICPHS), Saarbrücken: Morphological encoding via phonological features: From phonetics to grammar (Oral Presentation, August 10th)
2007 (with Aditi Lahiri & Henning Reetz) Where do Features come from? International Conference, University of Paris 3 (Sorbonne-Nouvelle): What lexical representations have to feature. HEIGHT in German vowels (Poster presentation, October 2007)
2008 (with Allison Wetterlin) International Conference "Development and variation in the lexicon", University of Konstanz: Segmental and tonal underspecification: Theoretical approaches and experimental findings
2008 Workshop "Discovering and Representing Phonological Patterns", University of Konstanz: Changing features or changing exemplars? A perspective on New Zealand English vowels
2008 Colloquium "Cognition and Emotion", University of Konstanz: Abstraktheit und Spezifizität von sprachlichen Langzeitrepräsentationen
2008 Max-Planck-Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience, Leipzig: Economy in the brain - Thoughts about speech perception
2008 Colloquium, University of Maryland, USA:Alternating stem variants: What is the basis for recognition?
2008 Workshop Morphology "To store or not to store: Handling of morphological complexity", University of Konstanz:The surface doesn’t tell it all: Representation of stem alternants


University of Konstanz (Teaching Assistant)

Proseminar (Undergraduate level): Introduction to Phonology, Introduction to Linguistics, Acoustic Phonetics, Historical Linguistics
Hauptseminar (Graduate level): Phonology, Phonetics, Psycholinguistics