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It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

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Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Academic Paper

Title: On the role of locality in learning stress patterns
Author: Jeffrey N. Heinz
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of Delaware
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Phonology; Psycholinguistics; Typology
Abstract: This paper presents a previously unnoticed universal property of stress patterns in the world's languages: they are, for small neighbourhoods, neighbourhood-distinct. Neighbourhood-distinctness is a locality condition defined in automata-theoretic terms. This universal is established by examining stress patterns contained in two typological studies. Strikingly, many logically possible – but unattested – patterns do not have this property. Not only does neighbourhood-distinctness unite the attested patterns in a non-trivial way, it also naturally provides an inductive principle allowing learners to generalise from limited data. A learning algorithm is presented which generalises by failing to distinguish same-neighbourhood environments perceived in the learner's linguistic input – hence learning neighbourhood-distinct patterns – as well as almost every stress pattern in the typology. In this way, this work lends support to the idea that properties of the learner can explain certain properties of the attested typology, an idea not straightforwardly available in optimality-theoretic and Principle and Parameter frameworks.


This article appears IN Phonology Vol. 26, Issue 2.

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