Lab News Publication

“Substantive bias and variation in the acquisition of vowel harmony” published on Glossa

Youngah and Tingyu’s paper have recently published in the journal Glossa. The paper is titled “Substantive bias and variation in the acquisition of vowel harmony.”

The study delves into substantive bias, a phenomenon where learners exhibit a preference for phonetically motivated patterns during language acquisition. The paper provides evidence that variable input, as opposed to categorical input, can activate substantive bias. In the experiment, native Hong Kong Cantonese speakers were randomly assigned to either categorical or variable training conditions for vowel backness harmony or disharmony, or to a no-training control condition. The results reveal that participants in the categorical and control conditions did not show a bias towards either pattern. However, those in the variable conditions demonstrated a preference for vowel harmony. This suggests that input variability can strengthen the effect of substantive bias. This research contributes to our understanding of the role of input variability in phonological learning and the mechanisms involved in acquiring phonetically motivated and unmotivated phonological patterns.

Congratulations to Youngah and Tingyu on their successful publication! The paper is accessible through Glossa under open access.

Huang, T., & Do, Y. (2023). Substantive bias and variation in the acquisition of vowel harmony. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics, 8(1), Article 1. open_in_new DOI