We discuss what factors influence the acquisition of morphophonemic alternations. What mechanisms are available to the learner; what is the basis for grammatical generalizations? Using the Artificial Language Paradigm we compared the acquisition of three alternations differing in phonetic substance, locality, and amount of exposure: one alternation was substantively based and structurally local, another one was structurally local but not substantively based, and the last alternation was neither substantively based nor structurally local. Within each alternation we exposed the experimental groups to a greater or smaller number of instances. Results show a clear advantage for the substantively based alternation during acquisition. In addition, the local dependency has an advantage over the non-local one and alternations that are presented frequently have an advantage over those that are presented infrequently. We show that all three factors influence the acquisition of morphophonemic alternations, but they do so to a different degree. Phonetic substance causes the strongest boost in the acquisition process and builds on locality, which also plays a role, and amount of exposure influences the acquisition process independent of the nature of the alternation. We argue that acquisition models should take the interaction of these factors into account.
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