The Role of Language-Specific Phonology: Tracking Linguistic Variables in Khalkha Mongolian

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/202940
Title:
The Role of Language-Specific Phonology: Tracking Linguistic Variables in Khalkha Mongolian
Author:
LaCross, Amy Beth
Issue Date:
2011
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:
Previous research on speakers' abilities to track non-adjacent dependencies (e.g., vowels or consonants that co-occur across syllables) in artificial grammar learning (AGL) tasks has shown that the acquisition of these patterns is extremely difficult (e.g. Newport&Aslin 2004; Gómez 2002; Bonatti, PenÞa, Nespor&Mehler 2005). One assumption made in this literature is that all speakers of all languages should be capable of tracking these patterns even when the native language of those speakers contains no such non-adjacent dependencies. This dissertation questions this assumption by testing whether native Khalkha Mongolian speakers attend to and track the frequency of vowel patterns and harmonic class size in their language. It also tests their ability to acquire non-adjacent vocalic dependencies in AGL tasks.Because Khalkha displays [ATR] vowel harmony (Svantesson, Tsendina, Karlsson&Franzén 2005) which restricts vowel co-occurrences, it was hypothesized that Khalkha speakers are biased towards attending to the frequency and form with which these vowel patterns occur. The results of three experiments indicated that Khalkha speakers both attend to and track the frequency with which vowel patterns occur. These results also indicate that Khalkha speakers build abstract categories based on the relative token numbers of [+ATR] and [-ATR]harmonic spans.Khalkha speakers were further tested in three experiments which focused on speakers' ability to acquire novel non-adjacent vocalic dependencies in AGL tasks. The results indicated that participants successfully acquired vocalic dependencies (both harmonic and disharmonic) in all three experiments. These results indicate that Khalkha speakers' attention is biased towards vowels, regardless of harmonic status of the item.Collectively, these results highlight the role of language-specific phonology in the ways that speakers abstract and utilize phonological information. The special status of harmonic vowel patterns and harmonic class size are new variables with which to conduct future research on vowel harmonic languages and with vowel harmonic language speakers. The effects of language-specific phonology on speech perception and lexical access must be considered a crucial aspect in future psycholinguistic research, particularly in regards to the aspects of language toward which speakers attend.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
non-adjacent dependencies; phonology; vowel harmony; vowel pattern frequency; Linguistics; artificial grammar learning; Khalkha Mongolian
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Graduate College; Linguistics
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Ohala, Diane K.; Ussishkin, Adam P.

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoenen_US
dc.titleThe Role of Language-Specific Phonology: Tracking Linguistic Variables in Khalkha Mongolianen_US
dc.creatorLaCross, Amy Bethen_US
dc.contributor.authorLaCross, Amy Bethen_US
dc.date.issued2011-
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.abstractPrevious research on speakers' abilities to track non-adjacent dependencies (e.g., vowels or consonants that co-occur across syllables) in artificial grammar learning (AGL) tasks has shown that the acquisition of these patterns is extremely difficult (e.g. Newport&Aslin 2004; Gómez 2002; Bonatti, PenÞa, Nespor&Mehler 2005). One assumption made in this literature is that all speakers of all languages should be capable of tracking these patterns even when the native language of those speakers contains no such non-adjacent dependencies. This dissertation questions this assumption by testing whether native Khalkha Mongolian speakers attend to and track the frequency of vowel patterns and harmonic class size in their language. It also tests their ability to acquire non-adjacent vocalic dependencies in AGL tasks.Because Khalkha displays [ATR] vowel harmony (Svantesson, Tsendina, Karlsson&Franzén 2005) which restricts vowel co-occurrences, it was hypothesized that Khalkha speakers are biased towards attending to the frequency and form with which these vowel patterns occur. The results of three experiments indicated that Khalkha speakers both attend to and track the frequency with which vowel patterns occur. These results also indicate that Khalkha speakers build abstract categories based on the relative token numbers of [+ATR] and [-ATR]harmonic spans.Khalkha speakers were further tested in three experiments which focused on speakers' ability to acquire novel non-adjacent vocalic dependencies in AGL tasks. The results indicated that participants successfully acquired vocalic dependencies (both harmonic and disharmonic) in all three experiments. These results indicate that Khalkha speakers' attention is biased towards vowels, regardless of harmonic status of the item.Collectively, these results highlight the role of language-specific phonology in the ways that speakers abstract and utilize phonological information. The special status of harmonic vowel patterns and harmonic class size are new variables with which to conduct future research on vowel harmonic languages and with vowel harmonic language speakers. The effects of language-specific phonology on speech perception and lexical access must be considered a crucial aspect in future psycholinguistic research, particularly in regards to the aspects of language toward which speakers attend.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectnon-adjacent dependenciesen_US
dc.subjectphonologyen_US
dc.subjectvowel harmonyen_US
dc.subjectvowel pattern frequencyen_US
dc.subjectLinguisticsen_US
dc.subjectartificial grammar learningen_US
dc.subjectKhalkha Mongolianen_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineLinguisticsen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorOhala, Diane K.en_US
dc.contributor.advisorUssishkin, Adam P.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberArchangeli, Diana B.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberHammond, Michaelen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberWarner, Natashaen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberUssishkin, Adam P.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberOhala, Diane K.en_US
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