29 August: Stella Frank

Modelling L1-L2 speaker interactions

Stella Frank (University of Edinburgh)

Tuesday 29 August 2017, 11:00–12:30
1.17 Dugald Stewart Building

This talk will present ongoing work on modelling the interaction of L1 and L2 speakers in a Bayesian framework. In particular, we’re interested in whether native speakers accommodating to the non-native speaker can drive language change, i.e., serve as a mechanism for the types of population-level correlations between language complexity and L2 speakers found by (Lupyan & Dale 2010, Bentz & Winter 2013). Accommodation requires the speaker to have a “Theory of Language” analogous to a “Theory of Mind” regarding their interlocutors. In our model, this means that agents reason about the likely linguistic knowledge of their partner, and they update their beliefs after encountering evidence (e.g. words spoken by their partner). First results show that accommodation in interaction can lead to more regular languages in our model, but under only slightly different circumstances can also lead to higher variation.