LINGUIST List 13.2062

Fri Aug 9 2002

Diss: Psycholing: Zamuner "Input-based..."

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  1. T.Zamuner, Psycholing: Zamuner "Input-based phonological acquisition"

Message 1: Psycholing: Zamuner "Input-based phonological acquisition"

Date: Fri, 09 Aug 2002 10:39:41 +0000
From: T.Zamuner <>
Subject: Psycholing: Zamuner "Input-based phonological acquisition"

New Dissertation Abstract

Institution: University of Arizona
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2001

Author: Tania S Zamuner 

Dissertation Title: 
Input-based phonological acquisition

Linguistic Field: 
Psycholinguistics, Phonology, Linguistic Theories, Cognitive Science

Dissertation Director 1: LouAnn Gerken
Dissertation Director 2: Michael Hammond

Dissertation Abstract: 

This dissertation contrasts two theories of language acquisition. The
first theory, which has been dominant in generative linguistics,
argues that acquisition is primarily mediated by innate properties of
language provided by universal grammar (Universal Grammar Hypothesis -
UGH). The opposing view is that language is acquired based on the
patterns in the ambient language or input (General Pattern Learning
Hypothesis - GPLH). These theories are contrasted by examining
children's acquisition of coda consonants in CVC words. The UGH of
coda preferences was based on previous research and on frequency
analyses of codas in CVC words from 35 languages. Results showed that
languages prefer coronal codas and sonorant codas. These
cross-linguistic preferences are interpreted as reflecting
UG. Predictions of the GPLH were established through an examination of
English codas in CVC words from a number of different sources. This
revealed the frequency of codas in the input, upon which the GPLH was
based. In order to determine which hypothesis better predicts
children's coda acquisition, data were then collected from previously
published research, from CHILDES, and from an experiment designed to
test children's production of English codas. To evaluate the UGH,
children's coda productions were analyzed to determine whether the
preferred codas were coronals of sonorants. Results did not show that
these codas were favoured. To evaluate the GPLH, analyses determined
whether there were significant correlations between children's coda
productions and the frequency of English codas. Results showed that
these relationships were significant.

The role of the input was further examined in an experiment designed
to test children's productions of the same coda in non-words
controlled for phonotactic probabilities. Results showed that
phonotactic probabilities played a significant role in accounting for
children's production of the same coda in different words.

The results support an input-based account of phonological
acquisition. Thus, language acquisition is best characterized with
respect to patterns in the ambient language, where frequently
occurring properties of the input serve to organize children's
linguistic representations. The research here illustrates the
importance of considering the input in children's acquisition of
phonological structures.
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