Typologically, some tone patterns are commonly observed while others are uncommon or even unattested. The source of such asymmetry in typology may come from difficulties in perception or production, or some innate learning bias in learning certain patterns over others. This study investigates the relationship between typological asymmetries and biases in acquisition. An artificial grammar learning experiment was conducted to explore whether there is evidence of a learning bias toward the typologically common tone pattern, in which High tone has dominance over Low tone as the retained tone after deletion. Both English speakers with no prior knowledge of tone and Mandarin Chinese who are familiar with tones but not this specific tonal pattern participated in the experiment. The results suggest a potential learning bias toward the common tonal pattern, which contributes to our understanding of typological asymmetries and learning bias in tone patterns.
Proceedings of the 34th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Aaron Kaplan, Abby Kaplan, Miranda K. McCarvel, and Edward J. Rubin
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