This dissertation investigates the learnability of grammatically vs. lexically
assigned word stress. The learning process is computationally modelled
within an Optimality Theoretic framework. The results show that even if they
acquire the same language, learners can end up with different grammars.
Moreover, the results suggest that first language learners can bootstrap into
the phonology of a language by making use of the meaning of a form in
combination with its phonetic content.
The proposed model employs four levels of representation: a phonetic
representation, a surface phonological representation, an underlying
phonological representation, and a representation of meaning. These
different levels are connected to each other by different families of
constraints. In the compehension process, the relation between the phonetic
form and the phonological surface form is determined by structural
constraints. In both the comprehension process and the production process,
the relation between the phonological surface form and the phonological
underlying form is determined by faithfulness constraints, whereas the
relation between underlying form and meaning is determined by lexical
constraints. The implication of the last point is that there is no strict
demarcation between grammar and lexicon.
This study is of interest to linguists working in computional models of
learnability and language acquisition, as well as metrical phonology and