Transitional Probability and Word Segmentation

Yingying Xie


This article aims at reviewing the literature in the studies of the relationship between transitional probability and word segmentation in an attempt to emphasize statistical learning as the experience-dependent factor in language acquisition. Transitional probability, the crucial cue of the statistical relationship between syllables, is characterized by its two computation directions: the forward transitional probability and backward transitional probability. Results from the empirical research on artificial languages and natural languages are also discussed to prove the effectiveness and defectiveness of transitional probability in word segmentation.

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International Journal of English Linguistics   ISSN 1923-869X (Print)   ISSN 1923-8703 (Online)   E-mail:

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