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Learnability of complex phonological interactions: an artificial language learning experiment

Linguistic Society of America
Publication Date
  • Linguistics
  • Logic


What inferences do learners make based on partial language data? We investigated whether exposure to independent phonological processes in a novel language would lead learners to infer their interaction in the absence of any direct evidence in the data. Participants learned to form compounds in an artificial language exhibiting independently-triggered phonological processes, but the potential interaction between them was withheld from training. Unlike control participants trained on a near-identical language without this potential, test participants rated critical items exhibiting the interaction as significantly more well-formed than control items, suggesting that they were able to generalize beyond the observed language properties.

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