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Academic Paper

Title: Fillers as signs of distributional learning
Author: Helena Taelman
Institution: University of Antwerp
Author: Gert Durieux
Institution: University of Antwerp
Author: Steven Gillis
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of Antwerp
Linguistic Field: Phonology
Abstract: A longitudinal analysis is presented of the fillers of a Dutch-speaking child between 1 ; 10 and 2 ; 7. Our analysis corroborates familiar regularities reported in the literature: most fillers resemble articles in shape and distribution, and are affected by rhythmic and positional constraints. A novel finding is the impact of the lexical environment: particular function words act as ‘anchor’ words that attract occurrences of schwa fillers after them. The child inserts significantly more schwa fillers in these contexts. The anchor words are among the most frequent words preceding articles in the input, indicating a sharp sensitivity to such distributional regularities. Nasal fillers too are affected by distributional learning, but at the phonological level: the child first uses nasals before [h]-initial nouns, and then generalizes this usage to all [h]-initial words. These observations are related to the growing body of evidence for the impact of distributional learning on early language production.


This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 36, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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