The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Colloquium 12/3 - Gaja Jarosz (UMass Amherst)

Speaker: Gaja Jarosz (UMass Amherst)
Title: Learning Hidden Phonological Generalizations
Time: Friday, December 3rd, 3:30pm – 5pm

Abstract: Language acquisition proceeds on the basis of incomplete, ambiguous linguistic input, and one source of this ambiguity is hidden phonological structure. Due to recent developments in computational modeling of phonological learning, there now exist numerous approaches for learning of various kinds of hidden phonological structure from incomplete, unlabeled, and noisy data. These computational models make it possible to connect the full representational richness of phonological theory with noisy, ambiguous corpus data representative of language learners’ linguistic experience to make detailed and experimentally testable predictions about language learning and generalization. In this talk, I briefly review these computational developments and then discuss two ongoing projects that utilize these mutually-informing connections between computation, phonological theory, and experimental data to test hypotheses about the abstract representations that underlie phonological knowledge.