The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Phonology Circle 5/7 - Thomas Schatz and Naomi Feldman (UMD/MIT)

Speakers: Thomas Schatz and Naomi Feldman (UMD/MIT)
Title: A simple framework to study how phonological structure can emerge from the interaction of social, physical and cognitive evolutionary pressures
Date/Time: Monday, May 7, 2018, 5:00-6:30pm
Location: 32-D831

Nowak and Krakauer (1999) proposed a framework to study how combinatoriality in language can emerge from evolutionary pressures to communicate in the presence of noise in the communication channel. I will present this framework and discuss possible extensions that might lead to functional accounts for certain phonological phenomena. I will focus in particular on an extension of the framework that adds a pressure to limit the production costs of words in the language, for which I will present a few preliminary results.
This is very preliminary work in collaboration with Matthias Hofer and Naomi Feldman. The main object of the presentation will be to get feedback on the potential of the framework and to advertise the project to students with a formal background in phonology – which both Matthias and me lack – who might be interested in collaborating with us.