The Emergence of Sound Repetition Under Pressure for Learning
Mits Ota (work with Aitor San Jose and Kenny Smith)
S38, 7 George Square
The experiment was loosely modeled after the cultural-transmission paradigm in Kirby, Tamariz, Cornish, & Smith (2015), and it compared 12 learning-and-transmission groups (or ‘chains’) and 12 communication-only groups (or ‘closed groups’) who learned novel labels for unfamiliar objects. Each chain consisted of 5 sequential pairs of participants who, after learning the labels, engaged in a communication game using those labels, and then passed them on to the next pair. Each closed group consisted of a single pair of participants who also learned the labels and played the communication game, but repeated the process 5 times among themselves. Additionally, we manipulated the size of the lexicon (12 words vs 18 words) to gauge the impact of pressure for communicative efficiency. The results showed that the amount of consonant repetition in the labels increased over time more quickly in the chains than the closed groups. There was no effect of lexicon size. These outcomes suggest that the potential impact of a learning bias on a linguistic system is conditioned by the degree to which the users are under pressure to learn the exact forms or structures that are transmitted.