Davis Colloquium

May 30
Social Sciences 122
University of Texas at Austin
Emergence of Complexity: The Case of Phonological Acquisition

Acquisition of the phonological component of language presents an opportunity to view emergence of a dynamically changing and complex system. In an emergence view, convergence of phonological knowledge and associated behavioral properties in human children is based on supporting mechanisms, including self-organization and learning. These mechanisms are domain-general and functional in their implementation across varied operations of the child within the environment. Phonological emergence is also conceptually reliant for expression on child social interaction capacities and input from environmental models. Importantly, phonological emergence is not based uniquely on expression through maturation of a modular and a priori linguistic competence/ performance system. Operation of the complex system supporting emergence of phonology will be illustrated by consideration of within syllable and across properties in child learners in the earliest periods of phonological acquisition as they contrast with patterns observed in patterns observed in languages.