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Variation awaiting bias: Substantively biased learning of vowel harmony variation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 June 2021

Youngah DO*
Affiliation:
Department of Linguistics, The University of Hong Kong
Shannon MOONEY
Affiliation:
Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship, Georgetown University, USA
*
Address for correspondence: Youngah Do, Department of 930 Run Run Shaw Tower, Department of Linguistics, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Email: youngah@hku.hk

Abstract

This article examines whether children alter a variable phonological pattern in an artificial language towards a phonetically-natural form. We address acquisition of a variable rounding harmony pattern through the use of two artificial languages; one with dominant harmony pattern, and another with dominant non-harmony pattern. Overall, children favor harmony pattern in their production of the languages. In the language where harmony is non-dominant, children's subsequent production entirely reverses the pattern so that harmony predominates. This differs starkly from adults. Our results compare to the regularization found in child learning of morphosyntactic variation, suggesting a role for naturalness in variable phonological learning.

Type
Brief Research Report
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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