The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Phonology Circle 4/26 - Jongho Jun

Speaker: Jongho Jun (Seoul National University)
Title: Speakers’ knowledge of alternation is uni-directional: evidence from Seoul Korean verb paradigms
Time: Tuesday 4/26, 5-6pm, 32-D831

In this talk, I will address the issue of whether and how speakers internalize lexical statistical patterns. I have investigated speakers’ responses when they are faced with unpredictability in allomorph selection by conducting a wug test on Seoul Korean verb paradigms. The test was performed in two directions. In forward formation test, the pre-vocalic base and pre-consonantal non-base forms were the stimulus and response respectively whereas in back formation test, the stimulus-response relation was switched.

The results show patterns approximating statistical patterns in Seoul Korean verb lexicon, thus confirming the lexical frequency matching reported in many previous studies. However, it seems that speakers do not internalize lexical patterns in the way suggested in most previous studies. It has been argued or assumed that different lexical statistics are usually active in forward and back formations since different sets of (non)alternation classes compete in different directions. This assumption has been adopted by mainstream phonological theories, whether rule or constraint-based, positing underlying representations to explain alternation.

Contrary to these conventional arguments and assumptions, the present study shows that lexical frequencies relevant to the forward formation are relatively consistent with the results of both forward and back formation tests. Lexical frequencies which have been considered active in back formation play almost no role in explaining test results. This observation can be understood only under the single base hypothesis (Albright 2002, 2005, 2008) in which only forward, not back, formation rules are in principle available to speakers.

Upcoming talks:
May 3: Nina Topintzi
May 5 11am-12pm Shin Ishihara ***** NOTE SPECIAL TIME (location TBA)
May 10: RUMMIT practice talks

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