Posts by Collection



Input “Clusters” and Contrast Preservation in OT

Published in Proceedings of WCCFL23, 2004

The starting point of this paper is the Contrast Preservation Theory (PCT) of Lubowicz (2002), and its novel approach to phonological opacity in OT. The EVAL component of PC theory assesses multiple input forms, in an input scenario. The goal of this paper is to provide an alternative to scenarios, which still captures the contrast-preserving patterns suggested by PCT. My alternative is a grammar-based algorithm that builds finite, language-specific sets of input forms called input clusters. Working loosely within the framework of PCT, I use the algorithm and its resulting clusters to analyze a derived environment effect (one opaque pattern explained under PCT).

Recommended citation: Tessier, A.M. (2004). "Input "Clusters" and Contrast Preservation in OT" WCCFL23 Proceedings.

Phonotactics and alternations: Testing the connection with artificial language learning

with with Joe Pater

Published in University of Massachusetts Occasional Papers volume 31, 2005

Since Chomsky and Halle (1968), it has been assumed that an adequate theory of phonology should capture the connection between phonotactics and alternations by deriving them using a shared mechanism. In this study, we used an artificial language learning experiment to test whether an alternation that meets a phonotactic target is easier to learn than one that does not. The two groups of adult subjects learned mini-languages that differed only in whether the alternations were motivated by the phonotactics of their native language. The results suggest that phonotactic knowledge does aid in the acquisition of alternations, and also provide a novel example of the influence of the first language on second language learning.

Recommended citation: Pater, J. and A. M. Tessier. (2005). "Phonotactics and alternations: Testing the connection with artificial language learning" University of Massachusetts Occasional Papers (UMOP) volumer 31.

Gradual learning and faithfulness: consequences of ranked vs. weighted constraints

with Karen Jesney

Published in Proceedings of NELS38, 2008

This paper investigates a class of restrictive intermediate stages that emerge during L1 phonological acquisition, and argues that these stages are naturally accounted for within a gradual learning model that uses weighted constraints. The particular type of pattern of interest here – Intermediate Faithfulness (IF) stages – involves the preservation of marked structures just in privileged environments. We illustrate this with data from Bat-El (2007), which shows the innovation of morphologically-sensitive phonology during the acquisition of Hebrew.

Recommended citation: Tessier, A.M. (2012). "Gradual learning and faithfulness: consequences of ranked vs. weighted constraints" NELS38 Proceedings.

Frequency of violation and constraint-based phonological learning

Published in Lingua, 2009

This paper provides two arguments that error-driven constraint-based grammars should not be learned by directly mirroring the frequency of constraint violation and satisfaction in the target words of a language. These two arguments are used to support an approach called Error-Selective Learning (ESL), in which errors are learned and stored gradually, in a way that relies on violation frequency, but rankings themselves are learned in a non-gradual way.

Recommended citation: Tessier, A.M. (2009). "Frequency of violation and constraint-based phonological learning" Lingua. 119(1).

UseListedError: a grammatical account of lexical exceptions in phonological acquisition

Published in Proceedings of NELS39, 2009

This paper attempts to provide an account for exceptionally-pronounced words in children’s developing phonologies, situated within an OT error-driven view of phonological learning. The present proposal provides a way to keep exceptional forms beyond the reach of the ‘core’ grammar, while still using an independently-proposed approach to gradual OT learning to progress through and beyond exceptional stages.

Recommended citation: Tessier, A.M. (2012). "UseListedError: a grammatical account of lexical exceptions in phonological acquisition" NELS39 Proceedings.

Trajectories of faithfulness in child-specific phonology

with Michael Becker

Published in Phonology, 2011

This paper provides new evidence and analysis of gradual and U-shaped phonological learning. Using a rich longitudinal corpus, we demonstrate that some of Trevor’s consonant harmony follows a statistically significant U-shaped trajectory, in contrast to the more typical S-shaped progression of his complex onsets. We then analyse these two developmental paths using an OT model in which the learner’s variation within and across stages is the effect of stored old productions rather than a variable grammar.

Recommended citation: Becker, M. and A. M. Tessier. (2011). "Trajectories of faithfulness in child-specific phonology" Phonology 28.

Biases in Harmonic Grammar: the road to restrictive learning

with Karen Jesney

Published in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, 2011

In the Optimality-Theoretic learnability and acquisition literature it has been proposed that certain classes of constraints must be biased toward particular rankings (e.g., Markedness » IO-Faith; Specific » General IO-Faithfulness). This paper demonstrates that altering the mode of constraint interaction from strict ranking as in Optimality Theory to additive weighting as in Harmonic Grammar (HG) reduces the number of classes of constraints that must be distinguished by such biases.

Recommended citation: Jesney, K. and A. M. Tessier. (2011). "Biases in Harmonic Grammar: the road to restrictive learning" Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 29(1). DOI 10.1007/s11049-010-9104-2

Error-driven learning in Harmonic Serialism

Published in Proceedings of NELS42, 2012

As a blend between serial and parallel phonological grammar, Harmonic Serialism has demonstrated some desirable advantages over classic Optimality Theory for capturing attested phonological typologies without overgenerating. If HS is to be embraced as a theory of phonology, however, it must be associable with a working theory of learning. This paper is an initial foray into how difficult it is to learn the phonotactics of an HS grammar, and how these difficulties might in principle be overcome.

Recommended citation: Tessier, A.M. (2012). "Error-driven learning in Harmonic Serialism" NELS42 Proceedings.

Testing for OO-faithfulness in the acquisition of consonant clusters

Published in Language Acquisition, 2012

This article provides experimental evidence for the claim in Hayes (2004) and McCarthy (1998) that language learners are biased to assume that morphological paradigms should be phonologically-uniform. The evidence comes from an artificial language word-learning paradigm, in which children learned novel objects names such as wutch and a plural suffix -del in an alien language and then were asked to produce alien words with difficult coda-onset clusters, some of which straddled the singular +del suffix boundary. The results suggest that 4-year-olds who are acquiring novel consonant clusters are preferentially faithful to the base segments in a derived word.

Recommended citation: Tessier, A.M. (2012). "Testing for OO-faithfulness in the acquisition of consonant clusters" Language Acquisition. 19(2).

Developmental trends and L1 effects in early L2 learners onset cluster production

with Tamara Sorenson Duncan and Johanne Paradis

Published in Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 2013

This study focuses on English onset cluster production in spontaneous speech samples of 10 children aged 5;04–6;09 from Chinese and Hindi/Punjabi L1 backgrounds, each with less than a year of exposure to English. The results suggest commonalities between early L2 learners and both monolingual and adult L2 learners in the location of cluster repair and the sometimes-exceptional treatment of s+stop clusters. We also provide evidence that accuracy rates and repairs used in early L2 cluster production show L1 influences.

Recommended citation: Tessier, A. M., T. Sorenson Duncan and J. Paradis. (2013). "Developmental trends and L1 effects in early L2 learners onset cluster production" Bilingualism: Language and Cognition. 16(3).

The nature of regressions in the acquisition of phonological grammars

Published in Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of Phonology 2013, 2014

This paper assesses the extent to which phonological regressions cast doubt on the view of phonological acquisition as a gradual process of grammatical error resolution. Based on existing and novel analyses of longitudinal data, this paper argues that true phonological regressions (“grammatical backtracking”) should not be captured directly within the normal workings of children’s error-driven mechanisms for grammar learning. Part of the argument comes from the claim that grammatical backtracking is restricted to child-specific processes, suggesting an exceptional treatment of these regressions via child-specific constraints that are induced over the course of learning.

Recommended citation: Tessier, A.M. (2013). "The nature of regressions in the acquisition of phonological grammars." Proceedings of AMP 2013.

Learning in Harmonic Serialism and the necessity of a Richer Base

with Karen Jesney

Published in Phonology, 2014

This paper reassesses the hypothesis that early phonotactic learning of constraint-based grammars relies on the Identity Map – i.e. it uses observed surface forms as the inputs which cause errors and drive learning via constraint reranking. In the constraint-based derivational framework of Harmonic Serialism, reliance on observed surface forms as inputs can block the discovery of ‘hidden rankings’ between markedness constraints, preventing the learner from discovering a restrictive grammar. This paper illustrates the problem, using a pattern of positional vowel restrictions in Punu (Kwenzi Mikala 1980), and considers the role of various learning assumptions.

Recommended citation: Tessier, A.M. and K. Jesney. (2014). "Learning in Harmonic Serialism and the necessity of a Richer Base; Phonology. 31(1).

Perceptual Attrition of Lexical Tone among L1 Yoruba-speaking Children in Canada

with Saliu Shittu

Published in Proceedings of BUCLD39 - Online Supplement, 2015

This paper reports a study of tonal perception and attrition in Yoruba (NigerCongo), among children aged 8-15 and their parents living in an English-dominant environment. The overall results show a rapid loss of tone perception among children, and also indicate grammatical asymmetries (e.g. greater accuracy for High tone) which match previous work on Yoruba tone.

Recommended citation: Shittu, S. and A.M. Tesser. (2015). "Perceptual Attrition of Lexical Tone among L1 Yoruba-speaking Children in Canada" BUCLD39 Proceedings - Online Supplement.

Morphophonological acquisition

Published in Handbook of Developmental Linguistics, 2016

This handbook chapter begins by introducing a small but representative range of morphophonological data, with an eye to rule-base and constraint-based accounts of phonology and their interactions with morphology. Second it exemplifies some empirical observations about the nature and stages of morphophonological acquisition, tying them to related proposals about how morphophonology is acquired. Finally it discusses the methodologies and results of experimental studies of morphophonological acquisition

Recommended citation: Tessier, A.M. (2016). "Morphophonological acquisition" Handbook of Developmental Linguistics.

Motor influences on grammar in an emergentist model of phonology

with Tara McAllister

Published in Language and Linguistics Compass, 2016

This paper focuses on bringing together two literatures that have evolved largely independently. The first explores how speech-motor patterns practiced during babbling come to be disproportionately represented in the lexicon in children’s earliest stages of meaningful speech. The second posits that abstract elements of phonology – segments, features, and constraints – can be understood to emerge from generalizations over stored memory traces at a more holistic level. We argue that an emergentist model of phonological learning can be enhanced by incorporating the insight that memory traces of strings that have been heard and produced are encoded more robustly than strings that have only been heard.

Recommended citation: McAllister Byun, Tara and Anne-Michelle Tesser. (2016). "Motor influences on grammar in an emergentist model of phonology" Language and Linguistics Compass. 10(9).

Learnability and Learning Algorithms in Phonology

Published in Oxford Research Encyclopedia in Linguistics, 2017

This encyclopedia article summarizes some of the basic questions, approaches and findings in phonological learnability, with an emphasis on constraint-based grammars and associated algorithms.

Recommended citation: Tessier, A.M. (2017). "Learnability and Learning Algorithms in Phonology" Oxford Research Encyclopedia in Linguistics.

A Schrift to Fest Kyle Johnson (edited volume)

with Keir Moulton and Nick LaCara (co-editors)

Published in Linguistics Open Access Publications, 2017

This volume of forty-three papers celebrates Kyle Johnson’s contribution to linguistics. Written by Johnson’s colleagues and former students, the papers touch upon topics that have defined Johnson’s career, including verb movement, ellipsis, gapping, Germanic, extraposition, quantifiers and determiners, object positions, among others.

Recommended citation: LaCara, N., K. Moulton, and A.M. Tessier (eds.) 2017. "A Schrift to Fest Kyle Johnson" Linguistics Open Access Publications. 1.

Vowel but not consonant identity and the very informal English lexicon

with Michael Becker

Published in Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of Phonology 2017, 2018

In this paper we use morphological compounding to probe English speakers’ intuitions about the phonological goodness of long-distance vowel and consonant identity. The compound type under investigation is a class of insult we refer to as shitgibbons, and we report the results of three online surveys in which speakers rated novel shitgibbons which did or did not instantiate long-distance harmonies. We compare shitgibbon harmony preferences with the frequency of segmental harmony in English compounds more generally, and conclude that the lexicon displays both vowel and consonant harmony. We also attribute the lack of productive consonant harmony in shitgibbons to attested cross-linguistic harmony patterns.

Recommended citation: Tessier, A.M. and M. Becker. (2018). "Vowel but not consonant identity and the very informal English lexicon." Proceedings of AMP 2017.

Human Central Auditory Plasticity; a Review of functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) to Measure Cochlear Implant Performance and Tinnitus Perception

with Gregory Basura, Frank Hu, Juan San Juan and Ioulia Kovelman

Published in Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology, 2018

Functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is an emerging non-invasive technology used to study cerebral cortex activity. Being virtually silent and compatible with cochlear implants has helped establish fNIRS as an important tool when investigating auditory cortex as well as cortices involved with language processing in adults and during child development. The purpose of this review article is to summarize key current fNIRS studies to date that have investigated human auditory performance with cochlear implantation and plasticity that may underlie the central percepts of tinnitus.

Recommended citation: Basura, G., X. Hu, J. San Juan, A.M. Tessier and I. Kovelman. (2018). "Human Central Auditory Plasticity; a Review of functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) to Measure Cochlear Implant Performance and Tinnitus Perception." Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology. 3(6): 463-472.

The effect of allophonic processes on word recognition: Eye-tracking evidence from Canadian raising

with Ashley Farris-Trimble

Published in Language, 2019

This paper examines the recognition of words that have undergone Canadian Raising and/or intervocalic flapping. Two eye-tracking experiments suggest that listeners are slower to fixate words that have undergone one or more phonological processes within their own Raising dialect, supporting the idea that they must calculate a mapping from surface word forms to more abstract representations.

Recommended citation: Farris-Trimble, Ashley and Anne-Michelle Tesser. (2019). "The effect of allophonic processes on word recognition: Eye-tracking evidence from Canadian raising" Language. 95(1). e136-e160.

U-shaped development in error-driven child phonology

Published in Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews Cognitive Science, 2019

Phonological regressions or U‐shaped development have frequently been observed in longitudinal studies of child speech production. However, the typology of which phonological patterns regress, and their implications for learning, have not been given much attention in the recent literature on constraint‐based phonological development. This paper systematically addresses the question of whether or not attested phonological regressions are incompatible with an error‐driven approach to grammatical development. The survey discusses several case studies of phonological regression in the literature, grouped according to their ease of explanation under error‐driven learning.

Recommended citation: Tessier, A.M. (2019). "U-shaped development in error-driven child phonology". WIREs Cognitive Science vol 10(6). e1505.



Teaching at the University of Michigan

2016-2018, Linguistics and Psychology, 1900

Linguistics Courses: Intro to Linguistics, Psycholinguistics, Speech Sciences, Graduate Phonology
Psychology Courses: Language Acquisition, Cognitive Development

Teaching at the LSA Summer Institute

2013-2017, Linguistic Society of America, 1900

2013 LSA Summer Institute, University of Michigan: Phonological Acquisition
2017 LSA Summer Institute, University of Kentucky: The Timecourse of Bilingual Phonologies

Teaching at the University of Alberta

2006-2016, Linguistics, 1900

Undergraduate Courses: Introduction to Linguistics, Phonology, Phonological Acquisition, Language Acquisition.
Graduate Courses: Phonology I, Phonology II, Research Methods
Independent Studies and Seminars: To Be Added