This week at MCQLL, Gemma Huang will present her ongoing project on comparing phonotactic probability models.

Overview: Phonotactics is a branch of phonology that studies the restrictions on permissible combinations of phonemes. The adoption of words is governed by systematic intuitions on the likelihood of different combinations of sounds in a language. For example, between two hypothetical English words “blick” and “bnick”, “blick” has a higher likelihood to be accepted as an English word by a native speaker (Chomsky and Halle, 1965). Understanding such constraints on allowable sound sequences is crucial to understanding language productivity and second language acquisition. The focal point of the project is to explore and test phonotactics models from three classes: maximum entropy models, Bayesian models, and neural-network-based models. To compare these models, we will collect English speakers’ judgements on novel word forms.

As usual, the meeting will be Wednesday from 14:30-16:00 in Room 117. A late lunch will be provided.