Stochastic phonological knowledge: the case of Hungarian vowel harmony

Bruce Hayes, Zsuzsa Cziráky Londe
2006 Phonology  
In Hungarian, stems ending in a back vowel plus one or more neutral vowels show unusual behavior: for such stems, the otherwise-general process of vowel harmony is lexically idiosyncratic. Particular stems can take front suffixes, take back suffixes, or vacillate. Yet at a statistical level, the patterning among these stems is lawful: in the aggregate, they obey principles that relate the propensity to take back or front harmony to the height of the rightmost vowel and to the number of neutral
more » ... owels. We argue that this patterned statistical variation in the Hungarian lexicon is internalized by native speakers. Our evidence is that they replicate the pattern when they are asked to apply harmony to novel stems in a "wug" test (Berko 1958). Our test results match quantitative data about the Hungarian lexicon, gathered with an automated Web search. We model the speakers' knowledge and intuitions with a grammar constructed under the dual listing/generation model of Zuraw (2000) , then show how the constraint rankings of this grammar can be learned by algorithm. * * We would like to thank for helpful advice. As is usual, they are not to be held responsible for defects. We would also like to thank our many Hungarian language consultants for sharing their native-speaker intuitions. p. 2
doi:10.1017/s0952675706000765 fatcat:qehnihi5dffghjqjmfqqxwkwee