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Linguistic Inquiry

Fall 1998, Vol. 29, No. 4, Pages 656-683
(doi: 10.1162/002438998553914)
© 1998 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Formal and Empirical Arguments Concerning Phonological Acquisition
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Smolensky (1996a) has proposed an ingenious solution to the well-known “comprehension/production” dilemma in phonological acquisition. In this article we argue that Smolensky's model encounters serious difficulties with respect to the parsing algorithm proposed and the learnability of underlying representations. Drawing on the generative literature in phonological acquisition, as well as the work of phoneticians and psycholinguists, we offer alternative parsing algorithms and examine their implications for learnability and the initial ranking of Optimality Theory constraints. Finally, we propose that the resolution of the comprehension/production dilemma lies not in the phonological domain (linguistic competence), but in the domain of the implementation of linguistic knowledge (performance).