- Loanword adaptation as first-language phonological perception (2009)
- We show that loanword adaptation can be understood entirely in terms of phonological and phonetic comprehension and production mechanisms in the first language. We provide explicit accounts of several loanword adaptation phenomena (in Korean) in terms of an Optimality-Theoretic grammar model with the same three levels of representation that are needed to describe L1 phonology: the underlying form, the phonological surface form, and the auditory-phonetic form. The model is bidirectional, i.e., the same constraints and rankings are used by the listener and by the speaker. These constraints and rankings are the same for L1 processing and loanword adaptation.
- Modelling the formation of phonotactic restrictions across the mental lexicon (2009)
- Experimental data shows that adult learners of an artificial language with a phonotactic restriction learned this restriction better when being trained on word types (e.g. when they were presented with 80 different words twice each) than when being trained on word tokens (e.g. when presented with 40 different words four times each) (Hamann & Ernestus submitted). These findings support Pierrehumbert’s (2003) observation that phonotactic co-occurrence restrictions are formed across lexical entries, since only lexical levels of representation can be sensitive to type frequencies.
- The evolution of auditory contrast (2007)
- This paper reconciles the standpoint that language users do not aim at improving their sound systems with the observation that languages seem to improve their sound systems. Computer simulations of inventories of sibilants show that Optimality-Theoretic learners who optimize their perception grammars automatically introduce a so-called prototype effect, i.e. the phenomenon that the learner’s preferred auditory realization of a certain phonological category is more peripheral than the average auditory realization of this category in her language environment. In production, however, this prototype effect is counteracted by an articulatory effect that limits the auditory form to something that is not too difficult to pronounce. If the prototype effect and the articulatory effect are of a different size, the learner must end up with an auditorily different sound system from that of her language environment. The computer simulations show that, independently of the initial auditory sound system, a stable equilibrium is reached within a small number of generations. In this stable state, the dispersion of the sibilants of the language strikes an optimal balance between articulatory ease and auditory contrast. The important point is that this is derived within a model without any goal-oriented elements such as dispersion constraints.
- The violability of backness in retroflex consonants (2005)
- This paper addresses remarks made by Flemming (2003) to the effect that his analysis of the interaction between retroflexion and vowel backness is superior to that of Hamann (2003b). While Hamann maintained that retroflex articulations are always back, Flemming adduces phonological as well as phonetic evidence to prove that retroflex consonants can be non-back and even front (i.e. palatalised). The present paper, however, shows that the phonetic evidence fails under closer scrutiny. A closer consideration of the phonological evidence shows, by making a principled distinction between articulatory and perceptual drives, that a reanalysis of Flemming’s data in terms of unviolated retroflex backness is not only possible but also simpler with respect to the number of language-specific stipulations.