17 October: Alexander Martin

13 October 2017  •  Svenja Wagner

Biases in phonological processing and learning

Alexander Martin (University of Edinburgh)

Tuesday 17 Oct 2017, 11:00–12:30
G32 7 George Square

During speech perception, listeners are biased by a great number of factors, including cognitive limitations such as memory and attention and linguistic limitations such as their native language. In this talk, I will present my PhD work addressing two of these factors: processing bias during word recognition, and learning bias during the transmission process. These factors are combinatorial and can, over time, affect the way languages evolve. First, I will detail a study focusing on the importance of phonological features in word recognition, at both the perceptual and lexical levels, and discuss how speakers integrate information from these different sources. Second, I will present a series of experiments addressing the question of learning bias and its implications for the linguistic typology. Specifically, I will present artificial language learning experiments showing better learning of the typologically common pattern of vowel harmony compared to the exceedingly rare, but logically equivalent pattern of vowel disharmony. I will also present a simple simulation of the transmission of these patterns over time, showing better survival of harmonic patterns compared to disharmonic ones.

PhD for Mark Atkinson

31 October 2016  •  Kenny Smith

Congratulations to Dr Mark Atkinson, who was formally awarded his PhD today – Mark’s thesis was titled “Sociocultural determination of linguistic complexity”, he was supervised by Kenny Smith and Simon Kirby and examined by Rick Dale and Joe Fruehwald.

We’re evolving!

6 May 2016  •  Jon Carr

The Language Evolution and Computation Research Unit was established back in 1997 by Jim Hurford and Simon Kirby, and has grown substantially since then to become (we think) the world’s leading group of researchers working on language origins and evolution. To reflect our increased size, and also the increased breadth of the techniques we use (we still build computational models, but it’s not all we do), we’ve decided to rebrand as the Centre for Language Evolution.

Welcome to our new home on the internet!