In a new paper out in Cognitive Science, DCLS members Carmen Saldana, Sabine Stoll and Balthasar Bickel teamed up with John Mansfield et al (U Melbourne) to explore the cognitive underpinnings of the cross-linguistic tendency to place affixes that belong to the same category in the same position (i.e., category clustering). What is driving this tendency? Using artificial language learning methods the authors show that category clustering makes it easier for speakers to learn the morphology of a language. These results suggest that the recurrence of category clustering across the languages of the world is grounded in learnability constraints.
Mansfield, J., Saldana, C., Hurst, P., Nordlinger, R., Stoll, S., Bickel, B. & Perfors, A. (2022) Category clustering and morphological learning. Cognitive Science. https://doi.org/10.1111/cogs.13107