From Perceptual Learning to Speech Production: Generalizing Phonotactic Probabilities in Language Acquisition

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/194455
Title:
From Perceptual Learning to Speech Production: Generalizing Phonotactic Probabilities in Language Acquisition
Author:
Richtsmeier, Peter Thomas
Issue Date:
2008
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
Phonotactics are the restrictions on sound sequences within a word or syllable. They are an important cue for speech segmentation and a guiding force in the creation of new words. By studying phonotactics, we stand to gain a better understanding of why languages and speakers have phonologies. Through a series of four experiments, I will present data that sharpen our theoretical and empirical perspectives of what phonotactics are and how they are acquired.The methodology is similar to that used in studies of infant perception: children are familiarized with a set of words that contain either a few or many examples of a phonotactic sequence. The participants here are four-year-olds, and the test involves producing a target phonotactic sequence in a new word. Because the test words have not been encountered before, children must generalize what they learned in the familiarization phase and apply it to their own speech. By manipulating the phonetic and phonological characteristics of the familiarization items, we can determine which factors are relevant to phonotactic learning. In these experiments, the phonetic manipulation was the number of talkers who children heard produce a familiarization word. The phonological manipulation was the number of familiarization words that shared a phonotactic pattern.The findings include instances where learning occurs and instances where it does not. First, the data show that the well-studied correlation between phonotactic probability and production accuracy in child speech can be attributed, at least partly to perceptual learning, rather than a practice effect attributable to repeated articulation. Second, the data show that perceptual learning is a process of abstraction and learning about those abstractions. It is not about making connections between stored, unelaborated exemplars because learning from the phonetic manipulation alone was insufficient for a phonotactic pattern to generalize. Furthermore, perceptual learning is not about reorganizing pre-existing symbolic knowledge, because learning from words alone is insufficient. I argue that a model which learns abstract word-forms from direct phonetic experience, then learns phonotatics from the abstract word-forms, is the most parsimonious explanation of phonotactic learning.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
Linguistics; Phonology; Language Acquisition; Phonotactics; Talker Variability; Type Frequency
Degree Name:
PhD
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Linguistics; Graduate College
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Gerken, LouAnn; Ohala, Diane K.
Committee Chair:
Gerken, LouAnn; Ohala, Diane K.

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoENen_US
dc.titleFrom Perceptual Learning to Speech Production: Generalizing Phonotactic Probabilities in Language Acquisitionen_US
dc.creatorRichtsmeier, Peter Thomasen_US
dc.contributor.authorRichtsmeier, Peter Thomasen_US
dc.date.issued2008en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractPhonotactics are the restrictions on sound sequences within a word or syllable. They are an important cue for speech segmentation and a guiding force in the creation of new words. By studying phonotactics, we stand to gain a better understanding of why languages and speakers have phonologies. Through a series of four experiments, I will present data that sharpen our theoretical and empirical perspectives of what phonotactics are and how they are acquired.The methodology is similar to that used in studies of infant perception: children are familiarized with a set of words that contain either a few or many examples of a phonotactic sequence. The participants here are four-year-olds, and the test involves producing a target phonotactic sequence in a new word. Because the test words have not been encountered before, children must generalize what they learned in the familiarization phase and apply it to their own speech. By manipulating the phonetic and phonological characteristics of the familiarization items, we can determine which factors are relevant to phonotactic learning. In these experiments, the phonetic manipulation was the number of talkers who children heard produce a familiarization word. The phonological manipulation was the number of familiarization words that shared a phonotactic pattern.The findings include instances where learning occurs and instances where it does not. First, the data show that the well-studied correlation between phonotactic probability and production accuracy in child speech can be attributed, at least partly to perceptual learning, rather than a practice effect attributable to repeated articulation. Second, the data show that perceptual learning is a process of abstraction and learning about those abstractions. It is not about making connections between stored, unelaborated exemplars because learning from the phonetic manipulation alone was insufficient for a phonotactic pattern to generalize. Furthermore, perceptual learning is not about reorganizing pre-existing symbolic knowledge, because learning from words alone is insufficient. I argue that a model which learns abstract word-forms from direct phonetic experience, then learns phonotatics from the abstract word-forms, is the most parsimonious explanation of phonotactic learning.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectLinguisticsen_US
dc.subjectPhonologyen_US
dc.subjectLanguage Acquisitionen_US
dc.subjectPhonotacticsen_US
dc.subjectTalker Variabilityen_US
dc.subjectType Frequencyen_US
thesis.degree.namePhDen_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineLinguisticsen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorGerken, LouAnnen_US
dc.contributor.advisorOhala, Diane K.en_US
dc.contributor.chairGerken, LouAnnen_US
dc.contributor.chairOhala, Diane K.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberLotto, Andrewen_US
dc.identifier.proquest2871en_US
dc.identifier.oclc659749931en_US
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