Using distributional statistics to acquire morphophonological alternations: evidence from production and perception

Buckler, Helen and Fikkert, Paula (2016) Using distributional statistics to acquire morphophonological alternations: evidence from production and perception. Frontiers in Psychology, 7 . 540/1-540/16. ISSN 1664-1078

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Abstract

Morphophonological alternations, such as the voicing alternation that arises in a morphological paradigm due to final-devoicing in Dutch, are notoriously difficult for children to acquire. This has previously been attributed to their unpredictability. In fact, the presence or absence of a voicing alternation is partly predictable if the phonological context of the word is taken into account, and adults have been shown to use this information (Ernestus and Baayen, 2003). This study investigates whether voicing alternations are predictable from the child’s input, and whether children can make use of this information. A corpus study of child-directed speech establishes that the likelihood of a stem-final obstruent alternating is somewhat predictable on the basis of the phonological properties of the stem. In Experiment 1 Dutch 3-year-olds’ production accuracy in a plural-elicitation task is shown to be sensitive to the distributional statistics. However, distributional properties do not play a role in children’s sensitivity to mispronunciations of voicing in a Preferential Looking Task in Experiment 2.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: first language acquisition, lexical representations, production, perception, alternations
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Arts > School of English
Identification Number: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00540
Depositing User: Buckler, Helen
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2017 13:27
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2017 01:04
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/45329

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