Primary stress placement is usually independent of the position of secondary stress. That is, languages tend to place primary stress on the "first" foot parsed. This paper offers a novel explanation for this typological bias: languages obeying the tendency are better-learned. This learning advantage arises from the consistent primary stress placement found in tendency-obeying languages. The bias is explicitly modeled in an online Maximum Entropy grammar learner in an iterated learning framework. This model yields probabilistic outcomes: the typological tendency is explained while still permitting exceptions. These predictions emerge from the grammatical model in combination with learning with no further elaboration. The tendency holds over a variety of constraint sets, but not all, pointing to the use of predictions about tendencies to inform grammatical theories.
Proceedings of the 31st West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Robert E. Santana-LaBarge
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