Distributional properties of language and sub-syllabic processing units


Book Section


Peereman, R., Dubois Dunilac, N., Perruchet, P., Content, A.




Distributional properties of language and sub-syllabic processing units

Journal / Livre / Conférence

Mental lexicon


During the past few years, several studies have drawn attention to the role of distributional characteristics in the segmentation of speech into word units. In the present chapter, we examine the role of distributional constraints in the acquisition of sub-syllabic language processing units. In particular, we suggest that specific processing units such as the rime might emerge from the distributional properties of sequences of vowels and consonants. We then summarize recent work showing that speakers are indeed insensitive to statistical distributions between vocalic and consonantal segments within the syllabe. Finally, a simulation study using the Parser model (Perruchet & Vinter, 1998) indicates how probabilistic constraints can influence the acquisition of representational units. We conclude that what can be viewed as processing units probably represents only the tip of the iceberg of broader knowledge about statistical properties of language and that the acquisition of such representational unit is, at least partially, shaped by general learning processes.


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