Generalization Beyond Similarity: Support for Abstract Phonology

Sara Finley


The present paper provides evidence from an artificial grammar learning task that supports abstract representations for phonology. Learners exposed to a novel back/round vowel harmony pattern were able to discriminate between grammatical and ungrammatical items that contained novel affixes, even though participants rated these novel items as highly dissimilar to exposure items. These results suggest that learners do not use exemplar-based notions of similarity as a metric for acceptability, but use abstract notions of grammaticality and markedness.


vowel harmony, similarity, artificial grammar learning

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