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  • 1 Hungarian Academy of Sciences Research Institute for Linguistics Benczúr u. 33 H-1068 Budapest Hungary

Phonotactic well-formedness judgments are usually gradient, the theoretical interpretation of which is controversial in the phonological literature. In this study we present experimental evidence from Slovak that speakers do have intuitions about unattested grammatical forms as well as attested marginal ones and these intuitions can be modeled fairly closely by gradient phonotactic learners like, for instance, the Hayes-Wilson Phonotactic Learner. Our results suggest that in gradient phonotactic judgments the knowledge of the relative probability of various combinations of natural classes plays a decisive role. We pay special attention to sonority reversal clusters in Slovak and claim that these sequences, although attested in the language, are on the verge of grammaticality and thus prone to change.

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