The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Phonology Circle 10/15 - Adam Albright & Young Ah Do

Speakers: Adam Albright and Young Ah Do
Title: Featural overlap facilitates learning of phonological alternations
Date/Time: Monday, Oct 15, 5:00p
Location: 32D-831

Alternations like p~f and t~s provide two kinds of information: certain segments (p~f) and certain features (continuancy) alternate. Grammatical frameworks generally encode alternations using features, predicting that evidence about one alternation may facilitate learning featurally overlapping alternations. We ran an Artificial Grammar experiment, exposing subjects to voicing and continuancy alternations at different frequencies for different segments (3 p~b, 13 t~d; 6 p~f, 3 t~s). In a memory task, subjects preferred frequent segmental alternations (t~d, p~f). However, in a generalization task, subjects systematically preferred voicing alternations, even for infrequent p~b. We model this with feature-based faithfulness constraints in a maxent model.