Language evolution seminar
Speaker: Rob Truswell (University of Edinburgh)
Title: What’s ‘that’?
Abstract: This is a talk in two parts. The first part is a case study in syntactic change, trying to make sense of a brief window in Middle English when virtually all free relatives were introduced by “that”. This period can only be understood by a generalization of standard models of grammar change, aiming to capture the following insight: Grammars are largely composed of associations between pieces of form and pieces of meaning, so grammar change is change in those sets of associations.
The second part of the talk describes some pilot work with Richard Blythe and Simon Kirby, modelling the dynamics of change in those terms. I give some preliminary results from those models, and discuss next steps.
Seminars are organised by the Centre for Language Evolution