Exemplar Theory Reading Group


Exemplar Theory views lexical items as distributions of remembered exemplars which are stored with all of their acoustic, social, and contextual information intact. The task of speech perception involves matching the acoustic signal to the stored distribution it most resembles, while the task of speech production involves averaging over a relevant part of the distribution. Since exemplars decay, more recently encountered utterances are stored with higher activation levels than older utterances, and socially and contextually relevant exemplars may receive more activation than less relevant exemplars. Thus, Exemplar Theory is particularly good at accounting for sociophonetic variation (e.g. Docherty & Foulkes 2005; Hay, Nolan & Drager 2006). However this approach has also been applied to syntactic variation (e.g. Bod 2006, Bresnan & Hay (in press), Hay & Bresnan (in press)).


The aim of this reading group is to review some of the foundational literature as well as recent experimental work. While the primary focus will be phonetics, phonology and sociolinguistics, we also aim to cover research on syntactic and semantic variation.


We will be meeting in the Seminar Room at TFS on Thursdays 11am-12pm. The proposed format for the meetings is for one person to lead the discussion of a paper. This would involve a 10-15 minute introduction covering the paper’s main points and then some prepared discussion topics. Below is the schedule of readings and presenters which will be updated based on group input. The links to the reading will usually take you to the online journal listing at the library, so please check the volume details in the reference list to navigate from there.

Week 1 (Jan 8)
Organisational meeting

Week 2 (Jan 15)
Reading: Goldinger (1998)
Discussion leader: Beth

Week 3 (Jan 22)
Reading: Johnson (1997)
Discussion leader: Mark

Week 4 (Jan 29)
Reading: Pierrehumbert (2001)
Discussion leader: Anita

Week 5 (Feb 5)
Reading: Pallier et al (2001)
Discussion leader: Laurie

Week 6 (Feb 12)
Reading: Luce et al (2003)
(http://languageperception.buffalo.edu/lswp/1.2 lmc-l.pdf)
Discussion leader: Beth

Reading Week (Feb 16-20)
no meeting

Week 7 (Feb 26)
no meeting

Week 8 (Mar 5)
Reading: Bod (2006)
Discussion leader: Hotze

Week 9 (Mar 12)
Readings: Hay & Bresnan (2006)

Week 10 (Feb 19)
no meeting

Week 11 (Mar 26)
Reading: Bybee (2006)

Week 12 (Apr 2)
Reading: Wedel (2006)
Discussion leader: Mark


Abbot-Smith, K. & Tomasello, M. (2006), ‘Exemplar-learning and schematization in a usage-based account of syntactic acquisition’, The Linguistic Review 23, 275–290.

Bod, R. (2006), ‘Exemplar-based syntax: How to get productivity from examples’, Linguistic Review 23, 291–320.

Bresnan, J. & Hay, J. (n.d.), Gradient grammar: An effect of animacy on the syntax of ‘give’ in varieties of english. In press.

Bybee, J. (2006), ‘From usage to grammar: The mind’s response to repetition’, Language 82(4), 711–733.

Connine, C. M. & Pinnow, E. (2006), ‘Phonological variation in spoken word recognition: Episodes and abstractions’, The Linguistic Review 23, 235–245.

Docherty, G. & Foulkes, P. (2000), Speaker, speech, and knowledge of sounds, in N. Burton-Roberts, P. Carr & G. Docherty, eds, ‘Phonological Knowledge: Conceptual and Empirical Issues’, Oxford University Press, pp. 105–129.

Docherty, G. & Foulkes, P. (2005), Glottal variants of (t) in the tyneside variety of english: An acoustic profiling study, in W. J. Hardcastle & J. M. Beck, eds, ‘A Figure of Speech: A Festschrift for John Laver’, Lawrence Erlbaum, London, pp. 173–199.

Ernestus, M. (2006), ‘Statistically gradient generalizations for contrastive phonological features’, The Linguistic Review 23, 217–233.

Foulkes, P. & Docherty, G. (2006), ‘The social life of phonetics and phonology’, Journal of Phonetics 34(4), 409–438.

Goldinger, S. D. (1996), ‘Words and voices: Episodic traces in spoken word identification and recognition memory’, Journal of Experimental Psychology 22, 1166–1183.

Goldinger, S. D. (1997), Perception and production in an episodic lexicon, in K. Johnson & J. W. Mullennix, eds, ‘Talker Variability in Speech Processing’, Academic Press, San Diego, pp. 33– 66.

Goldinger, S. D. (1998), ‘Echoes of echoes? an episodic theory of lexical access’, Psychological Review 105(2), 251–279.

Goldinger, S. D. & Azuma, T. (2003), ‘Puzzle-solving science: The quixotic quest for units in speech perception’, Journal of Phonetics 31, 305–320.

Grossberg, S. (1980), ‘How does a brain build cognitive code?’, Psychological Review 87, 1–51.

Grossberg, S. (1999), ‘The link between brain learning, attention, and consciousness’, Consciousness and Cognition 8, 1–44.

Grossberg, S. (2003), ‘Resonant neural dynamics of speech perception’, Journal of Phonetics 31, 423–445.

Hay, J. & Bresnan, J. (2006), ‘Spoken syntax: The phonetics of giving a hand in new zealand english’, The Linguistic Review 23(3), 321–349.

Hay, J., Nolan, A. & Drager, K. (2006), ‘From fush to feesh: Exemplar priming in speech perception’, The Linguistic Review 23, 351–379.

Hazan, V. (2007), Second language acquisition and exemplar theory, in ‘Proceedings of the XVIth International Conference on Phonetic Sciences’, Saarbrücken, pp. 39–42.

Johnson, K. (1997), Speech perception without speaker normalization: An exemplar model, in K. Johnson & J. W. Mullennix, eds, ‘Talker Variability in Speech Processing’, Academic Press, San Diego, pp. 145–165.

Luce, P. A., McLennan, C. & Charles-Luce, J. (2003), Abstractness and specificity in spoken word recognition: Indexical and allophonic variability in long-term repetition priming, in J. S. Bowers & C. J. Marsolek, eds, ‘Rethinking Implicit Memory’, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 197–214.

Magnuson, J. S. & Nusbaum, H. C. (2007), ‘Acoustic differences, listener expectations, and the perceptual accommodation of talker variability’, Journal of Experimental Psychology 33, 391– 409.

McLennan, C. T., Luce, P. A. & Charles-Luce, J. (2003), ‘Representation of lexical form’, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 2(4), 539–553.

McQueen, J. M., Cutler, A. & Norris, D. (2006), ‘Phonological abstractions in the mental lexicon’, Cognitive Science 30, 1113–1126.

Niedzielski, N. (1999), ‘The effect of social information on the perception of sociolinguistic variables’, Journal of Language and Social Psychology 18, 62–85.

Pallier, C., Colomé, A. & Sebastián-Gallés, N. (2001), ‘The influence of native-language phonology on lexical access: Exemplar-based versus abstract lexical entries’, Psychological Science 12(6), 445–449.

Pierrehumbert, J. (2001), Exemplar dynamics: Word frequency, lenition and contrast, in J. L. Bybee & P. Hopper, eds, ‘Frequency and the Emergence of Linguistic Structure’, John Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp. 137–157.

Pierrehumbert, J. (2002), Word-specific phonetics, in ‘Laboratory Phonology 7’, Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin / New York, pp. 101–139.

Pierrehumbert, J. (2003), Probabilistic phonology: Discrimination and robustness, in R. Bod, J. Hay & S. Jannedy, eds, ‘Probabilistic Linguistics’, MIT Press, Malden MA, pp. 97–138.

Sancier, M. L. & Fowler, C. A. (1997), ‘Gestural drift in a bilingual speaker of Brazilian Portuguese and English’, Journal of Phonetics 25, 421–436.

Schacter, D. L., Dobbins, I. G. & Schnyer, D. M. (2004), ‘Specificity of priming: A cognitive neuroscience perspective’, Nature Reviews Neuroscience 5, 853–862.

Wedel, A. B. (2006), ‘Exemplar models, evolution and language change’, The Linguistic Review 23, 247–274.

Wedel, A. B. (2007), ‘Feedback and regularity in the lexicon’, Phonology, 24(1): 147–185.

Werker, J. F. & Curtin, S. (2005), ‘Primir: A developmental framework of infant speech processing’, Language Learning and Development 1(2), 197–234.