|Title:||The naturalness of product-oriented generalizations|
|Authors:||Michael Becker, Lena Fainleib|
|Abstract:||Allomorph selection by markedness constraints, which assess outputs only, is standard practice in Optimality Theory (Mester 1994 and onwards). This practice predicts that allomorph selection will be sensitive only to properties of the affixed output form; i.e. allomorph selection is product-oriented (Bybee & Slobin 1982, Albright & Hayes 2003). We present evidence from an artificial language experiment, showing that speakers are biased to prefer product-oriented generalizations.
Our language is based on Hebrew, where the plural affix [-ot] is preferred over [-im] when the stem contains [o]. In real Hebrew, all plural stems with [o] also have an [o] in the singular stem. In an experiment where [o] was present only in the singular or only in the plural, participants preferred pairing the allomorph [-ot] with the plural stem [o], showing a bias for a product-oriented generalization in the absence of positive evidence for it from real Hebrew.
Experimental materials and results: http://becker.phonologist.org/hebrewplurals/