08 December 2021

Seminar Alexander Martin


Alexander Martin

(Laboratoire de Linguistique Formelle, Université de Paris)

Wednesday 8 December 2021

3.00-4.00 p.m. LPL, conference room B011

Studying constraints on language change: a synchronic approach



Languages evolve under a large swath of different pressures, but biases in the ways languages are learned and transmitted can explain why certain patterns are so recurrent cross-linguistically.  In this talk, I will present experimental evidence attempting to shed light on the underpinnings of a couple of cross-linguistic regularities.  Specifically, I will review a project on learning biases favouring phonetically-motivated (aka “natural”) rules, focussing on the typologically frequent rule of vowel harmony compared to the formally similar but unattested rule of vowel disharmony (Martin & Peperkamp, 2020; Martin & White, 2021).  I will then discuss the so-called suffixing preference and show evidence that typological regularities may not always find their basis in cognitive constraints (Martin & Culbertson, 2020).  I will then turn to a project looking at the link between individual-level perception and production in language contact by considering the emergence of the phoneme /g/ in European Dutch (Martin et al., in revision) and propose how the methodology used in that project can be expanded to study the time course of contact-induced change.  I will briefly sum up by proposing a dual approach to the study of mechanisms underlying language change that considers biases situated both in the individual and in interaction.


08 December 2021, 15h0016h00
LPL, conference room B011