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Padraic Monaghan, November 15

Padraic Monaghan
Lancaster University

Design features of language: Language universals emerging from general
purpose learning constraints

In Greenberg's (1960) work on language universals, he proposed a set of
"design features" as definitional properties that all languages share.
Unlike the grammatical and morphological properties of languages that
Greenberg investigated, these definitional properties seem to be true
language universals. In my talk, I will present evidence that these
definitional properties are products of selective pressures of
communicative efficiency and learnability. In particular, I will present
research on the arbitrariness of the sign, such that the relationship
between the sound and the meaning of a word is largely uncorrelated,
combining corpus analyses, artificial language learning studies and
computational modelling approaches.

Where and when:
15:45-17:00 Nov 15, 2011
MPI Nijmegen, Conference Room 163

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