Journal article

Language evolution can be shaped by the structure of the world.

Amy Perfors, Daniel J Navarro

Cogn Sci | Published : 2014


Human languages vary in many ways but also show striking cross-linguistic universals. Why do these universals exist? Recent theoretical results demonstrate that Bayesian learners transmitting language to each other through iterated learning will converge on a distribution of languages that depends only on their prior biases about language and the quantity of data transmitted at each point; the structure of the world being communicated about plays no role (Griffiths & Kalish, 2005, 2007). We revisit these findings and show that when certain assumptions about the relationship between language and the world are abandoned, learners will converge to languages that depend on the structure of the w..

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