A Computational Basis for Phonology

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 2 (NIPS 1989)

Bibtex Metadata Paper


David Touretzky, Deirdre Wheeler


The phonological structure of human languages is intricate, yet highly constrained. Through a combination of connectionist modeling and linguistic analysis, we are attempting to develop a computational basis for the nature of phonology. We present a connectionist architecture that performs multiple simultaneous insertion, deletion, and mutation operations on sequences of phonemes, and introduce a novel additional primitive, clustering. Clustering provides an interesting alternative to both iterative and relaxation accounts of assimilation processes such as vowel harmony. Our resulting model is efficient because it processes utterances entirely in parallel using only feed-forward circuitry.