Learning phonotactic constraints from brief auditory experience

Kristine H. Onishi, Kyle E. Chambers, Cynthia Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Three experiments asked whether phonotactic regularities not present in English could be acquired by adult English speakers from brief listening experience. Subjects listened to consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) syllables displaying restrictions on consonant position. Responses in a later speeded repetition task revealed rapid learning of (a) first-order regularities in which consonants were restricted to particular positions (e.g. [bæp] not *[pæb]), and (b) second-order regularities in which consonant position depended on the adjacent vowel (e.g. [bæp] or [pIb], not *[pæb] or *[bIp]). No evidence of learning was found for second-order regularities in which consonant position depended on speaker's voice. These results demonstrated that phonotactic constraints are rapidly learned from listening experience and that some types of contingencies (consonant-vowel) are more easily learned than others (consonant-voice).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)B13-B23
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Phonotactic learning
  • Speech perception
  • Statistical learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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