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The metrical parse is guided by gradient phonotactics

  • Paul Olejarczuk (a1) and Vsevolod Kapatsinski (a1)

Phonotactic generalisations can be computed at different levels of granularity, from a coarse-grained legal/illegal dichotomy (blick, dwick ≻ *bnick, *lbick) to a fine-grained gradient of acceptability (blickdwickbnicklbick). This article investigates the sensitivity of the English metrical parse to the granularity of medial onset phonotactics. We present two experiments that feature pseudo-words with medial consonants and CC clusters varying in word-edge frequency and sonority (e.g. vatablick, vatadwick, vatabnick, vatalbick). The metrical parse is inferred from a hyphenation experiment and an online stress-assignment experiment. The results of both studies indicate that the parse is stochastic, and guided by relatively fine-grained phonotactic dependencies. Vocabulary simulations suggest that this level of granularity may arise because the gradient parser consistently outperforms the coarse-grained alternative across the developing lexicon.

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