Learning complex segments

Maria Gouskova, Juliet Stanton

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Sequences such as [mb, kp, ts] pattern as complex segments in some languages but as clusters of simple consonants in others. What evidence is used to learn their language-specific status? We present an implemented computational model that starts with simple consonants and builds more complex representations by tracking statistical distributions of consonant sequences. This strategy succeeds in a wide range of cases, both in languages that supply clear phonotactic arguments for complex segments and in languages where the evidence is less clear. We then turn to the typological parallels between complex segments and consonant clusters: both tend to be limited in size and composition. We suggest that our approach allows the parallels to be reconciled. Finally, we compare our model with alternatives: learning complex segments from phonotactics and from phonetics.*.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)151-193
    Number of pages43
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 2021


    • Complex segments
    • Computational modeling
    • Corpus phonology
    • Learnability
    • Phonological typology
    • Phonology

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Linguistics and Language


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