Shifting Categories: An Exemplar-based Computational Model of Chain Shifts


Explanations for historical chain shifts tend towards the teleological, using abstract ideas like balance and equilibrium as the organizing principles of a language’s sounds. This paper investigates whether there are more basic phonetic principles governing the behavior of sound categories with respect to one another. Using a computational simulation of agents communicating with each other, I show that vowel chain shifts fall out naturally from an exemplar-based model of sounds. This suggests that no overarching teleological mechanisms are required to account for chain shifts and that the self-organizing behavior of exemplar-based categories provides an adequate explanation.

7 Figures and Tables

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Ettlinger2007ShiftingCA, title={Shifting Categories: An Exemplar-based Computational Model of Chain Shifts}, author={Marc Ettlinger}, year={2007} }