i Language as an Evolutionary System | Language Evolution and Computation | University of Edinburgh

Language Evolution and Computation AHRC

Language as an Evolutionary System: A Multidisciplinary Approach



Workshop description


Accomodation and Travel




(Printable version here).

Monday 12th July 2010

9:30 REGISTRATION. Psychology building.
9:50 Welcome and Introduction.

Bill Croft. "An evolutionary model - NOT an analogy! - for language and culture"

Background reading:

  • Croft (2000) Explaining language change: an evolutionary approach. Harlow: Longman (Chapters 1 and 2).
  • Baxter, Blythe, Croft & McKane (2009) Modeling language change: An evaluation of Trudgill's theory of the emergence of New Zealand English. Language Variation and Change, 21:257-296. (Focus on pages 267-272). Download
  • 11:05 Coffee. Psychology building (Basement Concourse)

    Tom Griffiths. "Evolutionary dynamics and iterated learning"

    Background reading:

  • Griffiths, Kalish & Lewandowski (2008) Theoretical and empirical evidence for the impact of inductive biases on cultural evolution. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 363, 3503-3514. Download
  • Reali & Griffiths (2009) The evolution of frequency distribution: Relating regularization to inductive biases through iterated learning. Cognition 111, 317-328. Download
  • Reali & Griffiths (2010) Words as alleles: Connecting language evolution with Bayesian learners to models of genetic drift. Proc. R. Soc. B 227, 429-436. Download
  • 12:35 Lunch. Psychology building (Basement Concourse)
    1.45 Alex Mesoudi. "The experimental study of human cultural evolution"

    Background reading:

  • Mesoudi, Whiten & Laland (2006). Towards a unified science of cultural evolution. BBS, 29: 329-383. Download
  • Mesoudi & Whiten (2008). The multiple roles of cultural transmission experiments in understanding human cultural evolution. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 363:3489-3501. Download
  • 2:50 Coffee. Psychology building (Basement Concourse)
    3:15 Kenny Smith. "Language change and language evolution in the lab"

    Background reading:

  • Smith & Wonnacott (forthcoming). Eliminating unpredictable variation through iterated learning. To appear in Cognition.
  • Kirby, Cornish & Smith (2008). Cumulative cultural evolution in the laboratory: an experimental approach to the origins of structure in human language. PNAS, USA, 105: 10681-10686. Download
  • 4:20 Coffee. Psychology building (Basement Concourse)
    4:45 DISCUSSION SESSION. Commentator: Andrew Smith
    5:30 End

    Tuesday 13th July 2010

    10:00 Russell Gray. "What do evolutionary biologists have to offer historical linguists?"

    Abstract: Over the last two decades evolutionary biology has been revolutionised by the combined impact of large databases and computational phylogenetic methods. In this talk I will explore the possible benefits historical linguists might also derive from adopting web databases and phylogenetic methods. I will emphasise that these technologies are supplements, rather than replacements, for traditional linguistic scholarship.

    Background reading:

  • Gray, Drummond & Greenfield (2009) Language phylogenies reveal expansion pulses and pauses in Pacific settlement. Science, 323(5913): 479 - 483. Abstract
  • 11:05 Coffee. Psychology building (Basement Concourse)
    11:30 Simon Kirby. "The evolution of linguistic replicators"

    Background reading:

  • Kirby, S. (in press). The Evolution of Linguistic Replicators. In Binder, P., & Smith, K. (eds). The Language Phenomenon. Springer. Download
  • 12:35 Lunch. Psychology building (Basement Concourse)
    1:45 Monica Tamariz. "Meaning as a selection pressure in the evolution of linguistic structure"

    Background reading:

  • Tamariz (2008) Exploring systematicity between phonological and context-cooccurrence representations of the mental lexicon. The Mental Lexicon, 3(2):259-278. Download
  • Cornish, Tamariz & Kirby (2010) Complex adaptive systems and the origins of adaptive structure: what experiments can tell us. Special issue on Language as a complex Adaptive System. Language Learning: 59:4S1. Download
  • 2:50 Coffee. Psychology building (Basement Concourse)

    Gerhard Jaeger. "Evolution without replicators: George Price's 'General Theory of Selection'"

    Background reading:

  • Jaeger (2008). Language evolution and George Price's "General Theory of Selection" in R. Cooper and R. Kempson (eds.), Language in Flux: Dialogue Coordination, Language Variation, Change and Evolution, College Publications, 53-82. Download
  • Clark (2010). Evolutionary frameworks for language change: The Price equation approach. Language and linguistic compass 4/6: 363-376. Abstract

    Additional reading:

  • Price (1995) The nature of selection. J. Theor. Biol. 157: 389-396.
  • Schwartz (2000) Death of an altruist: Was the man who found the selfless gene too good for this world?. Lingua franca 10(5).
  • 4:20 Break (sorry, no coffee). Psychology building (Basement Concourse)
    4:45 DISCUSSION SESSION. Commentator: Nicolas Claidiere.
    5:30 End