Lin Li

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Ping Li

Second Advisor

Dr. Cindy Bukach

Third Advisor

Dr. Jane Berry


The implicational hierarchy of phonological feature development has proposed that children acquire native phonemic inventory in a systematic way, from the least articulatory-effort-required phonemes to most demanding ones. On the phonemic inventory level, the hierarchy suggests that perceptual features bearing by oral stops /p/, /b/, /t/, /d/, /k/, /g/ would appear ahead of perceptual features bearing by fricatives, affricatives and liquids ... while nasals stops ... would emerge in the middle. With the help of age-of-acquisition index and a phonemic change schema, the distributions of 489 phonological neighbors have been examined against the data from MacArthur Communicative Development Inventory to test the predicted sequence of early phonemic and lexical acquisition. The results didn't support a strict stage-like interpretation of the implicational hierarchy, but a general trend sketched by it has been observed again from both sparse and dense phonological neighborhoods. A connectionist model with a phonological self-organizing map has been proposed conceptually to integrate the results and claims from the phonemic implicational feature hierarchy.

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