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.
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I study phonology, language acquisition, constraint-based grammars, and other things. Photo credit: J. Craft.