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The Interaction of Language-Specific and Universal Factors During the Acquisition of Morphophonemic Alternations With Exceptions

  • Using the artificial language paradigm, we studied the acquisition of morphophonemic alternations with exceptions by 160 German adult learners. We tested the acquisition of two types of alternations in two regularity conditions while additionally varying length of training. In the first alternation, a vowel harmony, backness of the stem vowel determines backness of the suffix. This process is grounded in substance (phonetic motivation), and this universal phonetic factor bolsters learning a generalization. In the second alternation, tenseness of the stem vowel determines backness of the suffix vowel. This process is not based in substance, but it reflects a phonotactic property of German and our participants benefit from this language-specific factor. We found that learners use both cues, while substantive bias surfaces mainly in the most unstable situation. We show that language-specific and universal factors interact in learning.

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Author:Dinah Baer-Henney, Frank Kügler, Ruben van de Vijver
ISSN:0364-0213 (print)
ISSN:1551-6709 (online)
Pubmed Id:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=25546633
Parent Title (English):Cognitive science : a multidisciplinary journal of anthropology, artificial intelligence, education, linguistics, neuroscience, philosophy, psychology ; journal of the Cognitive Science Society
Place of publication:Hoboken
Document Type:Article
Year of first Publication:2015
Year of Completion:2015
Release Date:2017/03/27
Tag:Acquisition; Artificial language paradigm; Exceptional alternation; Phonology; Phonotactics; Substance
First Page:1537
Last Page:1569
Funder:University of Potsdam; Potsdam Graduate School
Organizational units:Humanwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Linguistik / Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft
Peer Review:Referiert