LINGUIST List 19.1546
Tue May 13 2008
Diss: Cognitive Sci/Phonetics/Phonology/Psycholing: VanDam: 'Plasti...'
Editor for this issue: Evelyn Richter
Plasticity of Phonological Categories
Message 1: Plasticity of Phonological Categories
From: Mark VanDam <mrk.vandamgmail.com>
Subject: Plasticity of Phonological Categories
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Institution: Indiana University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007
Author: Mark VanDam
Dissertation Title: Plasticity of Phonological Categories
Dissertation URL: http://www.VanDamMark.com/docs2/VanDam_07_thesis.pdf
Robert F Port
Kenneth de Jong
Tracy Alan Hall
David B Pisoni
Stuart M Davis
The traditional model for language assumes a level of competence thatrepresents words composed of distinctive features that are invariant unitsdrawn from a small, universally specified set. The present work tests twoof these assumptions, representational invariance and the assumed small setsize of these features.
This study trained naive listeners on artificially lengthened voice-onsettimes in specific target words and tested whether pretraining andposttraining perceptual boundary locations differed. Results indicatesubjects were successfully trained on the target words, but this effect didnot generalize to other, structurally similar words. In addition, robustfrequency and lexical effects are reported, but do not apparently interactwith training. As predicted, frequency effects suggest subjects preferencefor high-frequency words over low-frequency words, but, somewhatsurprisingly, lexical effects suggest a preference for non-words over words.
Results undermine foundational assumptions of the traditional model,specifically the assumptions of representational invariance and a small setsize. To account for these results, an exemplar memory model is discussedin which no principled restrictions are imposed on memory for language. Theexemplar models discussed are able to account for the facts reported here.