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Phonological Naturalness and Phonotactic Learning

Hayes, B; White, J; (2013) Phonological Naturalness and Phonotactic Learning. Linguistic Inquiry , 44 (1) 45 - 75. 10.1162/LING_a_00119. Green open access

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Abstract

We investigate whether the patterns of phonotactic well-formedness internalized by language learners are direct reflections of the phonological patterns they encounter, or reflect in addition principles of phonological naturalness. We employed the phonotactic learning system of Hayes and Wilson (2008) to search the English lexicon for phonotactic generalizations and found that it learned many constraints that are evidently unnatural, having no typological or phonetic basis. We tested 10 such constraints by obtaining native-speaker ratings of 40 nonce words: 10 violated our unnatural constraints, 10 violated natural constraints assigned comparable weights by the learner, and 20 were control forms. Violations of the natural constraints had a powerful effect on ratings, violations of the unnatural constraints at best a weak one. We assess various hypotheses intended to explain this disparity, and conclude in favor of a learning bias account.

Type: Article
Title: Phonological Naturalness and Phonotactic Learning
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1162/LING_a_00119
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1162/LING_a_00119
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2013 Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Linguistics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1447052
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