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Title:Dutch stress acquisition: OT and connectionist approaches
Authors:Marc Joanisse, Suzanne Curtin
Comment:26 pages. Alternative formats available on request. Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the SWOT 5 at UC San Diego (May 1999) and the Alberta Workshop on the Lexicon in Phonetics and Phonology (June 1999)
Abstract:Dutch stress acquisition: OT and connectionist approaches

Marc Joanisse & Suzanne Curtin

University of Southern California

This work investigated Dutch stress acquisition from the perspectives

of OT and connectionism. The empirical data from Dutch raise two

issues that are argued to present special difficulties for OT-based

accounts, and which might benefit from a connectionist treatment. The

first issue relates to the stagelike way in which Dutch-speaking

children acquire stress (Fikkert 1994). These stages are typically

explained as resulting from changes to the child's underlying grammar,

which we capture in an OT account. However, this type of account fails

to capture the graded and overlapping nature of stages in language

acquisition. Second, like many other OT accounts, our OT model also

fails to capture the quasiregular nature of Dutch stress,

characterized by a large number of works with exceptional stress. A

further complication is the observed tendency for irregularly stressed

words to form partially consistent pools of predictability. For

instance, many CVX.CVX words ending in -et and -el tend to take

irregular (final) stress (van der Hulst 1984).

Much of these data seems consistent with how connectionist networks

learn and encode linguistic patterns. We argue that the behavior of

such models might be suggestive for future directions in

constraints-based accounts of language. To address this, a

connectionist model was trained to produce Dutch words including

stress. Analyses of the model's performance over the course of

training revealed developmental patterns consistent with the empirical

facts of Dutch acquisition, including stage-like stress errors and the

tendency for developmental stages to overlap. In addition, the model's

ability to encode stress regularities extended beyond the usual

metrical accounts to include probabilistic generalizations about the

influence of segmental information on stress (e.g., French-sounding

word endings). These results are discussed with respect to newer

developments in OT such as probabilistic constraint rankings (Boersma

& Hayes 1999), and future directions for OT-type accounts of


Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1