Weigh(t)ing the evidence: avoidance and constraint interaction in phonological development


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This talk considers how one type of learning data can adjudicate between competing phonological theories – in particular, how it can lend support to the view that phonological constraints are weighted, as in Harmonic Grammar (HG), rather than ranked as in classic OT. These data come from lexical avoidance, using three stages from Donahue (1986)’s case study of Sean to argue that weighted constraint interaction are better suited to capture the trajectories of attested, regressed and avoided structures.