Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Competing Factors in Phonological Learning Models: The Acquisition of English Consonant Clusters

This thesis tests the relative influence of a number of factors within phonological learning models that have been proposed to affect patterns of child language acquisition. In the Gradual Learning Algorithm literature, social factors such as variation in the adult grammar and frequencies of forms in child-directed speech, and mental grammar factors such as constraints and decision strategies make various predictions about the learning paths followed by children. English-speaking children's acquisition of consonant clusters is modeled to test the relative influence of learning model factors, since each social factor in the English adult language makes opposite predictions about what learning paths children should follow. Adult grammar variation is shown to be the more influential social factor, and a comparison between the constraint sets and decision strategies used in Boersma and Levelt and Jesney and Tessier provides support for using Specific Faithfulness constraints to adequately model child language acquisition.