Social structure and lexical uniformity: A case study of gender differences in the Kata Kolok community
Mudd, K., Lutzenberger, H., De Vos, C., & De Boer, B.
Social structure and lexical uniformity: A case study of gender differences in the Kata Kolok community. In T. Fitch, C. Lamm, H. Leder, & K. Teßmar-Raible (Eds.
), Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2021)
(pp. 2692-2698). Vienna: Cognitive Science Society.
Language emergence is characterized by a high degree of lex-
ical variation. It has been suggested that the speed at which
lexical conventionalization occurs depends partially on social
structure. In large communities, individuals receive input from
many sources, creating a pressure for lexical convergence.
In small, insular communities, individuals can remember id-
iolects and share common ground with interlocuters, allow-
ing these communities to retain a high degree of lexical vari-
ation. We look at lexical variation in Kata Kolok, a sign lan-
guage which emerged six generations ago in a Balinese vil-
lage, where women tend to have more tightly-knit social net-
works than men. We test if there are differing degrees of lexical
uniformity between women and men by reanalyzing a picture
description task in Kata Kolok. We ﬁnd that women’s produc-
tions exhibit less lexical uniformity than men’s. One possible
explanation of this ﬁnding is that women’s more tightly-knit
social networks allow for remembering idiolects, alleviating
the pressure for lexical convergence, but social network data
from the Kata Kolok community is needed to support this ex-