Feature Specification and Underspecification in Phonological Acquisition
Wednesday, Jan. 18, 3-4 p.m.
Talk in Current research in Linguistics seminar series: Dr. Yvan Rose to present.
Current proposals concerning phonological feature specification range from radical nativism (features are innately available to the learner; Hale & Reiss 2008) to radical functionalism (features do not exist at all; Vihman & Croft 2007). Neither of these hypotheses however considers facts observed in child language beyond the children’s very first words (Rose 2017). Likewise, neither of these proposals is actually grounded in the child’s (or older individual’s) own
reality, in particular concerning the type of evidence available to them, also in like of their ability to actually make sense of this evidence (as per the interpretability requirement; O’Grady 1997). In this presentation, I cover the relevant facts and proposals and argue for a multi-step development process which involves different type of evidence as well as different levels of grammatical analysis across different stages of phonological development. During the initial stages, the learner builds lexical representations based on phonetic evidence only, this learning resulting in maximally specified features. During later stages, as the learner begins to understand relations between phonology and morpho-syntax, lexical representations can then be further specified, or underspecified when necessary, to reflect this additional knowledge.
Presented by Department of Linguistics