Acquisition of a symmetrical voice language: A multivariate corpus analysis of Tagalog caregiver and child speech
Western Austronesian languages have typologically rare but theoretically important voice systems that raise many questions about their learnability. In this talk, I will report on a variationist analysis of Tagalog speech using a newly collected corpus of caregiver-child interaction. We determined the constraints that condition voice use, voice selection, argument position, and thematic role assignment in both caregiver and child speech, using recursive partitioning. Our analyses showed that there are unique factors that strongly predict the speakers’ choice between the alternations, and children’s productions show sensitivity to the same constraints as in their input. These results suggest that input distributions provide many cues to the acquisition of the Tagalog voice system, making it eminently learnable despite its apparent complexity.