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Semester 1

Simulating Language (LASC10018)

Subject

Language Sciences and Linguistics

College

CAHSS

Credits

20

Normal Year Taken

3

Delivery Session Year

2022/2023

Pre-requisites

Visiting student must have completed at least 3 Linguistics/Language Sciences courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses. **The Language Sciences courses offered at the University of Edinburgh are extremely intensive and visiting students have struggled with these courses in previous years. Students are expected to have a strong background in Linguistics as an academic discipline; courses that are part of a Modern Foreign Languages degree may not provide students with an adequate background**

Course Summary

In this course, we will build and run experiments with very simple models that nevertheless cast light on a wide range of puzzles - from how we learn word meanings, to how the language faculty evolves. Each of these models will build on the previous ones and at each step we will relate the practical work we are doing with the existing literature on simulating language, as well as broader issues in the scientific understanding of language development, and the origins and ongoing evolution of language.

Course Description

The study of the origins and evolution of language has seen a resurgence of interest in recent years. Part of the reason for this has been the application of new techniques from computer modelling to test out different hypotheses about how language is learned and evolves. This allows researchers to run experiments on populations of simulated individuals, essentially rerunning competing proposed scenarios for the evolution of language. In this course, we will build and run experiments with very simple models that nevertheless cast light on a wide range of puzzles - from how we learn word meanings, to how the language faculty evolves. Each of these models will build on the previous ones and at each step we will relate the practical work we are doing with the existing literature on simulating language, as well as broader issues in the scientific understanding of the origins and ongoing evolution of language. This course will be suitable for anyone interested in the dynamic processes underpinning language, including individual learning, cultural transmission, and biological evolution. It will involve a mix of practical work and lectures. Experience of programming (using any language) would be an advantage, but is not a prerequisite. Students will be shown how to modify pre-existing simulation models (written using Python notebooks), and in the process learn the skills to eventually run their own simulation experiments.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

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Disclaimer

All course information obtained from this visiting student course finder should be regarded as provisional. We cannot guarantee that places will be available for any particular course. For more information, please see the visiting student disclaimer:

Visiting student disclaimer