Investigators have uncovered evidence for phonological learning biases: biases inherent in learners that favor certain language phonologies over others (e.g., Wilson 2006, Finley 2012, Moreton and Pater 2012, Hayes and White 2013, McMullin and Hansson 2014, White 2014). To what extent can a learning bias be defied in language? This question bears directly on the theory of phonological learning, as it addresses the limits of learner capability.

A growing family of findings suggests that learners tend to favor phonological constraints that are morphosyntactically general—that is, obeyed by at least several morphemes, or in multiple or all grammatical contexts. That phonological alternations are typically corroborated by the phonotactics of a given language was observed as early as Chomsky and Halle 1968 and Kenstowicz and Kisseberth 1977, but the generalizing tendency just mentioned has also been observed in a number of recent corpus studies....

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