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      What happens to large changes? Saltation produces well-liked outputs that are hard to generate

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          Abstract

          Saltatory alternations ‘skip over’ intermediate sounds, as in k~s skipping over [t]. Recent research has argued that saltation is diachronically unstable and documented one possible cause of instability: Learners exposed to saltatory alternations may overgeneralize them to intermediate sounds. However, this research has trained participants to criterion or excluded participants who did not reach criterion accuracy on familiar sounds. In first language acquisition, learners of languages with saltatory patterns cannot hope to receive more exposure to the pattern than those learning non-saltatory patterns. For this reason, we examined learning of saltatory and non-saltatory patterns after a constant amount of training. We compared saltatory labial palatalization to non-saltatory alveolar and velar palatalization. Participants showed overgeneralization of saltatory palatalization in a judgment task. However, saltatory alternations did not result in increased rates of palatalizing similar sounds, compared to non-saltatory alternations. Instead, saltatory alternations were less likely to be produced than non-saltatory alternations. These results suggest that large, saltatory alternations may be diachronically unstable because they are harder to (learn to) produce. Instead of being overgeneralized to intermediate sounds, saltatory alternations may disappear from the language by losing productivity and being replaced with faithful mappings.

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          Most cited references 31

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          Social interaction shapes babbling: testing parallels between birdsong and speech.

          Birdsong is considered a model of human speech development at behavioral and neural levels. Few direct tests of the proposed analogs exist, however. Here we test a mechanism of phonological development in human infants that is based on social shaping, a selective learning process first documented in songbirds. By manipulating mothers' reactions to their 8-month-old infants' vocalizations, we demonstrate that phonological features of babbling are sensitive to nonimitative social stimulation. Contingent, but not noncontingent, maternal behavior facilitates more complex and mature vocal behavior. Changes in vocalizations persist after the manipulation. The data show that human infants use social feedback, facilitating immediate transitions in vocal behavior. Social interaction creates rapid shifts to developmentally more advanced sounds. These transitions mirror the normal development of speech, supporting the predictions of the avian social shaping model. These data provide strong support for a parallel in function between vocal precursors of songbirds and infants. Because imitation is usually considered the mechanism for vocal learning in both taxa, the findings introduce social shaping as a general process underlying the development of speech and song.
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            A social feedback loop for speech development and its reduction in autism.

            We analyzed the microstructure of child-adult interaction during naturalistic, daylong, automatically labeled audio recordings (13,836 hr total) of children (8- to 48-month-olds) with and without autism. We found that an adult was more likely to respond when the child's vocalization was speech related rather than not speech related. In turn, a child's vocalization was more likely to be speech related if the child's previous speech-related vocalization had received an immediate adult response rather than no response. Taken together, these results are consistent with the idea that there is a social feedback loop between child and caregiver that promotes speech development. Although this feedback loop applies in both typical development and autism, children with autism produced proportionally fewer speech-related vocalizations, and the responses they received were less contingent on whether their vocalizations were speech related. We argue that such differences will diminish the strength of the social feedback loop and have cascading effects on speech development over time. Differences related to socioeconomic status are also reported. © The Author(s) 2014.
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              The curse of knowledge: first language knowledge impairs adult learners' use of novel statistics for word segmentation.

              We investigated whether adult learners' knowledge of phonotactic restrictions on word forms from their first language impacts their ability to use statistical information to segment words in a novel language. Adults were exposed to a speech stream where English phonotactics and phoneme co-occurrence information conflicted. A control where these did not conflict was also run. Participants chose between words defined by novel statistics and words that are phonotactically possible in English, but had much lower phoneme contingencies. Control participants selected words defined by statistics while experimental participants did not. This result held up with increases in exposure and when segmentation was aided by telling participants a word prior to exposure. It was not the case that participants simply preferred English-sounding words, however, when the stimuli contained very short pauses, participants were able to learn the novel words despite the fact that they violated English phonotactics. Results suggest that prior linguistic knowledge can interfere with learners' abilities to segment words from running speech using purely statistical cues at initial exposure.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                1868-6354
                Laboratory Phonology: Journal of the Association for Laboratory Phonology
                Ubiquity Press
                1868-6354
                25 June 2018
                2018
                : 9
                : 1
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Linguistics, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, US
                Article
                10.5334/labphon.93
                Copyright: © 2018 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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