Quantitative analysis has usually highlighted the random nature of linguistic forms (Zipf, 1949). We zoom in on three structured samples of language (numerals; playing cards; and a corpus of artificial languages from Kirby, Cornish & Smith 2008) to quantitative explore and illustrate the idea that linguistic forms are nonrandom in that their structure reflects the structure of the meanings they convey. A novel methodology returns frequency spectra showing the distribution of character n-gram frequencies in our language amples. These spectra, purely derived from linguistic form, clearly reflect the quantitative structure of the underlying meaning spaces, as verified with a new information theoretical metric of compositionality. Moreover, analyses of a diachronic corpus of languages show that linguistic structure gradually adapts to match the structure of meanings over cultural transmission.
|Title of host publication||Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society|
|Editors||Laura Carlson , Christoph Hölscher , Thomas F. Shipley|
|Publisher||Cognitive Science Society|
|Number of pages||6|
|Publication status||Published - 2011|
|Event||33rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society - Boston, Massachusetts, United States|
Duration: 20 Jul 2011 → 23 Jul 2011
|Conference||33rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society|
|Abbreviated title||CogSci 2011|
|Period||20/07/11 → 23/07/11|
Tamariz, M. (2011). Linguistic Structure Evolves to Match Meaning Structure. In L. Carlson , C. Hölscher , & T. F. Shipley (Eds.), Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1194-1199). Cognitive Science Society.