The Bangla project will be lead by Dr. Dustin Alfonso Chacón (NYUAD).
Bangla (also sometimes known as Bengali) is an Indo-Iranian language which has relatively reduced derivational and inflectional morphology. Derivational morphemes for Bangla verbs are rare, e.g., there is no morphological analogue to re- , un-, and dis-. For other lexical categories, many derivational morphemes in Bangla are historical relics from Sanskrit. These morphemes are semiproductive, associated with complex historical allomorphy that may render the root opaque, and are perceived to be in a higher register than words in the common vocabulary. However, unlike other well-studied languages, Bangla has a productive causative morpheme -a-. Additionally, inflectional morphology triggers a series of morphophonological changes in the stem, e.g., lekh- ‘write’ but likhi ‘I write’. While some recent work has used psycholinguistic tools to investigate Bangla phonology (Kotzor et al 2017, 2016, 2015) and sentence processing (Chacón et al. 2016), Bangla is entirely under- studied in the cognitive neuroscience of language, despite being the 5th most-spoken language in the world (Ethnologue 2019).
We have so far identified one affix which places semantic requirements on a verbal form, the prefix na-. This prefix is similar to the English un-, in that it attaches to adjectives or verb participles to negate their meaning. For instance, in the word nacena ‘unknown’, na- ‘un-’ attaches to the verb root cen- ‘know’ + the participle marker -a. This is only possible when the verb is transitive, e.g., na- ‘un-’ cannot combine in this way with the verbal stem ja- ‘go’ to make *‘ungone’. Comparing well-formed and violation items formed with Bangla na- to the evoked brain activation patterns for the same kinds of stimuli for English un- will provide an opportunity to see the effect of language specific constraints on structured interpretation. Additional affixes will be identified in collaboration with the predoctoral research associate, Swarnendu Moitra.