Linguistics and English Language

Language evolution seminar

Speaker: Limor Raviv (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics)

Title: Social structure affects the emergence of linguistic structure: experimental evidence

Abstract: Understanding world-wide patterns of language diversity has long been a goal for linguists, philosophers, and evolutionary scientists. Research over the past decade suggests that linguistic diversity may result from differences in the physical and social environments in which languages evolve. Specifically, it has been argued that larger population size, sparser network structure and higher proportion of adult L2 learners in the community lead to morphological simplification (e.g., Lupyan & Dale, 2010; Meir et al., 2012; Nettle, 2012; Trudgill, 2009; Wray & Grace, 2007). However, these three community properties are typically confounded in the real-world, making it hard to evaluate their unique contribution to this pattern of variation. In this talk I will present results from two group communication studies, in which we examine the live formation of new languages created in the lab by different micro-societies that differ in their size or in their network connectivity. This is the first experimental demonstration for the causal and independent role of community size and network structure in the emergence of linguistic structure. Additionally, I will present an outline for an upcoming study based on the same paradigm, which will test the role of second language learners in the community.


Seminars are organised by the Centre for Language Evolution

Andres Karjus

Centre for Language Evolution

Aug 21 2018 -

Language evolution seminar

2018-08-21: Social structure affects the emergence of linguistic structure: experimental evidence

Room 1.17, Dugald Stewart Building, 3 Charles Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AD