Shira Calamaro presenting at CogSci 2013
PhD candidate Shira Calamaro will be traveling to Berlin next week to present a paper on Saturday, August 3rd, at CogSci 2013, the 35th annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Shira’s talk, “A Computational Model of General Rule Learning with Unnatural Classes,” presents the results of a computational model of generalized phonological rule learning (Calamaro and Jarosz 2012), which is used to model experimental studies on the learning of phonotactic patterns governed by natural and unnatural classes. In her talk, Shira will focus on two papers with conflicting results on the learnability of natural and unnatural rules. Saffran and Thiessen (2003) find that a phonotactic pattern of positional voicing restrictions governed by a natural class of segments is learned by infants, but a similar pattern governed by an unnatural class is not learned. In contrast, Chambers, Onishi, and Fisher (2003) find that infants can learn a phonotactic pattern governed by an unnatural class of segments. The computational model presented in this paper is able to account for these seemingly conflicting results, explaining both the learnability and unlearnability of rules governed by unnatural classes.