Yoolim Kim

Visiting Lecturer in Cognitive & Linguistic Sciences

Research interests include the relationship between spoken and written language, the structure of the mental lexicon, orthographic processing and the acquisition of literacy and skilled reading, and structures of writing systems.

My research is broadly focused on the relationship between written and spoken language, and how this relationship affects the way in which our brains store and access words. I am especially interested in the ways in which different writing systems, depending on their structures, capture various aspects and properties of spoken language. Most of my research is on Korean, but in general, I am interested in expanding current models of the mental lexicon to take into account the structural diversity of writing systems attested cross-linguistically. Within Korean, I am interested in Hangul, and the status of Hanja within the Korean mental lexicon and its role in semantic processing. I employ classic psychological methods like lexical decision with priming to conduct such research. Most recently, I have been interested in the visual morphology of letter shapes and the building blocks that underpin the visual shapes of letters, engaging in more computational methods.

I teach Introduction to Linguistics and topics in Psycholinguistics. I have also recently taught courses in Research Methods as well as an introductory seminar to Cognitive Science. I have also taught topics in Phonology at both the introductory and advanced levels.

I am a member of the Linguistic Society of America and the International Circle of Korean Linguistics. Before returning to Wellesley, I was a postdoctoral researcher within the Minds and Traditions Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, where I still maintain affiliation and active collaboration. I am also affiliated with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

Outside of research, I enjoy listening to podcasts, travelling, and food.

Current and upcoming courses

Over the centuries, invented, or artificial, languages have been devised for many reasons, including a desire to improve existing languages, an effort to unite the world, or a need to explore how languages are learned. The vast majority have failed, but why? Is there a place for invented language? What do invented languages teach us about natural language? We will look at invented languages from a variety of points of view: linguistic, historical, philosophical, psychological, and sociological. We will explore the linguistic underpinnings of various languages, from seventeenth century Real Character to Na'vi, with a look at a successful "reinvented" language, Modern Hebrew. Students will design their own miniature artificial language.