The present study explores learning vowel harmony with exceptions using the artificial language learning paradigm. Participants were exposed to a back/round vowel harmony pattern in which one affix (either prefix or suffix, depending on the condition) alternated between /me/ and /mo/ depending on the phonetic feature of the stem vowels. In Experiment 1, participants were able to learn the behaviors of both alternating and non-alternating affixes, but were more likely to generalize to novel affixes for non-alternating items than alternating items. In Experiment 2, participants were exposed to training data that contained non-alternating affixes in prefix position while alternating affixes were all suffixes, or vice versa. Participants were able to extend the non-alternating affixes to the novel direction, suggesting that participants inferred a non-directional harmony pattern. Overall, the patterns of alternating affixes are harder to learn than patterns of exceptions that do not alternate, which aligns with previous findings supporting a non-alternation bias. Our study raises the question of how biases towards exceptionality and directionality interact in phonological learning.
Wang, Anqi and Finley, Sara
"Directionality Effects and Exceptions in Learning Phonological Alternations,"
University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics: Vol. 28:
1, Article 23.
Available at: https://repository.upenn.edu/pwpl/vol28/iss1/23