UCL Laboratory for Language and Speech Diversions

Upcoming meetings

Meetings are held in Chandler House unless otherwise stated.

27th May 2014
Time: 13:00
Location: Chandler House Room 101
Dinah Baer-Henney (Universität Potsdam, Universität Düsseldorf)
A gradient substantive learning bias in phonology

While there is a consensus about the role of frequency in synchronic grammar in that learners are driven by their knowledge of lexical frequency of phonological patterns, the role of the bias of phonetic grounding is less clear. Proponents claim that substantive base of patterns facilitates learning, but they do not agree on where such a bias arises from. I contribute to this debate by providing evidence for an active influence of this bias and insights on its nature. I present data of a corpus study as well as an artificial learning experiment in which I investigated intervocalic stop voicing at different places of articulation and the extent to which the generalization of this pattern is driven by frequency or substance. While a frequency driven learner should attach less importance to intervocalic voicing of coronal stops compared to dorsal stops a substance driven learner should prefer voicing in labial stops, followed by coronals, followed by dorsals.

In a poverty-of-the-stimulus experiment I trained German adults intervocalic stop voicing in an artificial language. Experimental groups differed with respect to the place of articulation they were exposed to: One group was trained with labial, coronal or dorsal stops, respectively. In a subsequent lexical decision task participants were faced with items of either place; the place that they had been trained with as well as the two places they have not been trained with. While participants learned to accept the place of articulation they were trained with, I observed that participants extended voicing more to the untrained condition which is articulatory fronter than to the one which is articulatory backer: I show that learners rely on a substantive bias in phonological learning and do not form generalizations on frequency alone. Moreover, substance can be interpreted as phonetical in nature: relative ease of articulation has an impact on learning and thus on synchronic grammar; the factor is gradient, not categorical.

Other business:

Contact information

Kevin Tang (Organiser)
Doctoral candidate
Department of Linguistics
University College London
Email: kevin.tang.10@ucl.ac.uk
Tel: 078 8098 3946

Past meetings

Page last modified on 20 may 14 12:28