The Role of Practice and Literacy in the Evolution of Linguistic Structure

Monica Tamariz, J. Erin Brown, Keelin M. Murray

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    Abstract

    Recent iterated language learning studies have shown that artificial languages evolve over the generations towards regularity. This trend has been explained as a reflection of the learners’ biases. We test whether this learning bias for regularity is affected by culturally acquired knowledge, specifically by familiarity and literacy. The results of non-iterated learning experiments with miniature artificial musical and spoken languages suggest that familiarity helps us learn and reproduce the signals of a language, but literacy is required for regularities to be faithfully replicated. This in turn indicates that, by modifying human learning biases, literacy may play a role in the evolution of linguistic structure.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on the Evolution of Language
    EditorsAndrew D. M. Smith, Marieke Schouwstra, Bart de Boer, Kenny Smith
    PublisherWorld Scientific Publishing
    Pages313-320
    Number of pages8
    ISBN (Electronic)978-981-4465-68-7
    ISBN (Print)9814295213, 978-9814295215
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2010
    Event8th International Conference on the Evolution of Language - Utrecht, Netherlands
    Duration: 14 Apr 201017 Apr 2010

    Conference

    Conference8th International Conference on the Evolution of Language
    Abbreviated titleEvoLang 8
    CountryNetherlands
    CityUtrecht
    Period14/04/1017/04/10

    Keywords

    • Literacy
    • language evolution
    • compositionality
    • musical literacy

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  • Cite this

    Tamariz, M., Brown, J. E., & Murray, K. M. (2010). The Role of Practice and Literacy in the Evolution of Linguistic Structure. In A. D. M. Smith, M. Schouwstra, B. de Boer, & K. Smith (Eds.), The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (pp. 313-320). World Scientific Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1142/9789814295222_0040