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October 2021

A cross-linguistic study in learning prosodic rhythms: Rules, constraints, and similarity

Author(s): Plunkett, K., Scarpa, E.

Journal/Book: Lang Speech. 1999; 42: 43 Derwent Rd, Whitton Twickenham, Middlesex, England Tw2 7HQ. Kingston Press Services Ltd. 1-38.

Abstract: Differences in the learnability of linguistic patterns may be crucial in deciding among alternative learning models. This paper compares the ability of English speakers (Experiment 1) and portuguese speakers (Experiment 2) to learn two complex rhythm patterns observed in languages with primary word stress. Subjects were familiarized with one of two rhythms during a discrimination task, followed by a recognition task which tested whether knowledge of the rhythm generalized to novel stimuli. The main findings were: (I)speakers trained on the cross-linguistically less common rhythm distinguished between novel stimuli which did or did not conform to their training rhythm, while speakers trained on the more common rhythm did not; (2) English speakers wen biased more strongly than Portuguese speakers against final stress; and (3) melodies that an on a boundary between rhythm categories were treated as less prototypical than other members of the same rhythm category. The results demonstrate that knowledge of complex linguistic rhythms can be generalized after very little training, and that the less common rhythm is easier to learn even though it seems more complex. The results are compared with general-purpose exemplar-based learning models as well as abstract linguistic theories of word stress acquisition.

Note: Article Bailey TM, Univ Oxford, Dept Expt Psychol, S Parks Rd, Oxford OX1 3UD, ENGLAND

Keyword(s): artificial grammar learning; prosody; rhythm; stress; KNOWLEDGE; PHONOLOGY; IMPLICIT; SPEECH


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