Linguistic structure is an evolutionary trade-off between simplicity and expressivity

Kenny Smith, Monica Tamariz, Simon Kirby

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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    Abstract

    Language exhibits structure: a species-unique system for expressing complex meanings using complex forms. We present a review of modelling and experimental literature on the evolution of structure which suggests that structure is a cultural adaptation in response to pressure for expressivity (arising during communication) and compressibility (arising during learning), and test this hypothesis using a new Bayesian iterated learning model. We conclude that linguistic structure can and should be explained as a consequence of cultural evolution in response to these two pressures.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
    EditorsMarkus Knauff , Michael Pauen , Natalie Sebanz , Ipke Wachsmuth
    Place of PublicationAustin, TX
    PublisherCognitive Science Society
    Pages1348-1353
    Number of pages6
    ISBN (Print)978-0-9768318-9-1
    Publication statusPublished - 2013
    Event35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society - Berlin, Germany
    Duration: 31 Jul 20133 Aug 2013

    Conference

    Conference35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
    Abbreviated titleCogSci 2013
    CountryGermany
    CityBerlin
    Period31/07/133/08/13

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  • Cite this

    Smith, K., Tamariz, M., & Kirby, S. (2013). Linguistic structure is an evolutionary trade-off between simplicity and expressivity. In M. Knauff , M. Pauen , N. Sebanz , & I. Wachsmuth (Eds.), Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1348-1353). Cognitive Science Society.