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Inducing nonlocal constraints from baseline phonotactics

  • Maria GouskovaEmail author
  • Gillian Gallagher
Article

Abstract

Nonlocal phonological patterns such as vowel harmony and long-distance consonant assimilation and dissimilation motivate representations that include only the interacting segments—projections. We present an implemented computational learner that induces projections based on phonotactic properties of a language that are observable without nonlocal representations. The learner builds on the base grammar induced by the MaxEnt Phonotactic Learner (Hayes and Wilson 2008). Our model searches this baseline grammar for constraints that suggest nonlocal interactions, capitalizing on the observations that (a) nonlocal interactions can be seen in trigrams if the language has simple syllable structure, and (b) nonlocally interacting segments define a natural class. We show that this model finds nonlocal restrictions on laryngeal consonants in corpora of Quechua and Aymara, and vowel co-occurrence restrictions in Shona.

Keywords

Phonology Phonotactics Computational modeling Inductive learning Learnability Consonant harmony Consonant dissimilation Vowel harmony Nonlocal phonology Corpus phonology Quechua Aymara Shona 

Notes

Acknowledgements

For helpful feedback, we would like to thank Arto Anttila and the anonymous reviewers of NLLT, as well as Maddie Gilbert, Juliet Stanton, Ildi Emese Szabó, Sora Heng Yin, Jon Rawski, audiences at OCP 2018 in London, UMass Amherst, Stony Brook, and the Phonology Winter School in Israel. Finally, we would like to thank Daniel Ridings for making the ALLEX corpus wordlist available to us, and Colin Wilson for sharing the code for the gain-based MaxEnt Phonotactic Learner, as well as detailed feedback on related work. This research was supported in part by NSF BCS-1724753 to the authors.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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