Blog Archives

Perceiving onset clusters in infancy

By 9-months infants are sensitive to native-language sound combinations. Our studies show that while younger infants discriminate clusters, they are not sensitive to differences in statistical frequency. Thus, the emergence of phonotactic knowledge is driven by experience with the frequency of occurrence of the sound combinations in one’s language.

from Infant Behavior and Development

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The Role of Phonotactic Frequency in Sentence Repetition by Children With Specific Language Impairment

Conclusion: Children with SLI repeated CVC target words less accurately overall but showed similar sensitivity to PPF as typical controls, suggesting that PPF affects repetition of real words embedded in sentential contexts by both children with SLI and typically developing peers.

from the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

Adding generalization to statistical learning: The induction of phonotactics from continuous speech

Emerging phonotactic knowledge facilitates the development of the mental lexicon, as demonstrated by studies showing that infants use the phonotactic patterns of their native language to extract words from continuous speech. The present study provides a computational account of how infants might induce phonotactics from their immediate language environment, which consists of unsegmented speech. Our model, StaGe, implements two learning mechanisms that are available to infant language learners: statistical learning and generalization. StaGe constructs phonotactic generalizations on the basis of statistically learned biphone constraints. In a series of computer simulations, we show that such generalizations improve the segmentation performance of the learner, as compared to models that rely solely on statistical learning. Our study thus provides an explicit proposal for a combined role of statistical learning and generalization in the induction of phonotactics by infants. Furthermore, our simulations demonstrate a previously unexplored potential role for phonotactic generalizations in speech segmentation.

from the Journal of Memory and Language

The Role of Natural Class Features in the Acquisition of Phonotactic Regularities

Abstract Previous research has shown that phonotactic regularities can be acquired through recent production or auditory experience (e.g., Dell et al., Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 26(6), 1355–1367, 2000; Onishi et al., Cognition, 83(1), B13–B23, 2002). However, little is known about the role of phonological natural classes in this learning process. This study addressed this question by investigating the acquisition of a contingency relationship between onsets and medial glides by Mandarin speakers. The experiments involved the manipulation of three types of phonotactic regularities. In the Laryngeal version, onsets that preceded the same glide shared a voicing feature. In the Place version, onsets that preceded same glide shared a place feature. In the Neither version, onsets associated with the same glide shared neither a voicing feature nor a place feature. Results showed the Place version and the Laryngeal version were more easily acquired than the Neither version in terms of the amount of exposure needed to acquire the experimentally manipulated phonotactic schema and the sustainability of the acquired schema. The results suggest that the statistical learning mechanism that guides our processing of speech input prefers phonological regularities that follow certain natural class features. This preference may account for the way natural languages are structured phonologically.

from the Journal of Psycholinguistic Research