The Effect of Sonority on Word Segmentation: Evidence for the Use of a Phonological Universal

Cognitive Science 36 (4):655-673 (2012)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

It has been well documented how language‐specific cues may be used for word segmentation. Here, we investigate what role a language‐independent phonological universal, the sonority sequencing principle (SSP), may also play. Participants were presented with an unsegmented speech stream with non‐English word onsets that juxtaposed adherence to the SSP with transitional probabilities. Participants favored using the SSP in assessing word‐hood, suggesting that the SSP represents a potentially powerful cue for word segmentation. To ensure the SSP influenced the segmentation process (i.e., during learning), we presented two additional groups of participants with either (a) no exposure to the stimuli prior to testing or (b) the same stimuli with pauses marking word breaks. The SSP did not influence test performance in either case, suggesting that the SSP is important for word segmentation during the learning process itself. Moreover, the fact that SSP‐independent segmentation of the stimulus occurred (in the latter control condition) suggests that universals are best understood as biases rather than immutable constraints on learning.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,122

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Sonority constraints on tonal patterns.Ping Jiang-King - 1999 - In Kimary Shahin, Susan Blake & Eun-Sook Kim (eds.), Proceedings of the 17th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics. Clsi. pp. 332--346.
Which came first: Infants learning language or motherese?Heather Bortfeld - 2004 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (4):505-506.

Analytics

Added to PP
2013-12-13

Downloads
36 (#410,354)

6 months
4 (#573,918)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?