Experimental studies of the cultural evolution of language have focused on how constraints on learning and communication drive emergence of linguistic structure. Yet language is typically transmitted by experts who adjust the input in ways that facilitates learning by novices, e.g. through child-directed speech. Using iterated language learning of binary auditory sequences, we explored how language change is affected by experts’ intention to teach the language to novices. Comparison between teaching chains and simple transmission chains revealed that teaching was associated with a greater rate of innovation which led to emergence of more expressive languages consisting of shorter signals. This is the first study to show that during cultural transmission, teaching can modify, and potentially optimise, functional characteristics of language.
|Title of host publication||Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society|
|Place of Publication||Austin, TX|
|Publisher||Cognitive Science Society|
|Number of pages||6|
|Publication status||Published - 18 Jul 2017|
|Event||39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Computational Foundations of Cognition - London, United Kingdom|
Duration: 26 Jul 2017 → 29 Jul 2017
Conference number: 39th
|Conference||39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society|
|Abbreviated title||COGSCI 2017|
|Period||26/07/17 → 29/07/17|
Kempe, V., Cichon, K., Gauvrit, N., & Tamariz, M. (2017). Iterated teaching can optimise language functionality. In Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 651-656). Cognitive Science Society.