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Dediu Dan - The interplay between linguistic and biological evolution

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Conférence donnée par Dan Dediu dans le cadre du séminaire "Language, cognition and computational models".

Culture and language are full-blown evolutionary systems, and conceptual and methodological parallels with evolutionary biology have helped advance our understanding of language change and evolution. Moreover, it is becoming clearer that the cultural and biological evolutionary systems are not independent, but there are complex interactions between the two, ranging from culture adapting to biological constraints, to culture shaping biological evolution, and to co-evolutionary processes between culture and biology.

In this talk I will discuss some examples of such interactions between the cultural and biological evolutionary systems, with a special emphasis on the genetic biasing of language change and evolution. Such biasing can act at various levels, from the anatomy and physiology of the vocal tract and hearing organs, to the way our brain and cognitive system process language. I will argue that computational and mathematical models of these process are an essential tool in understanding their necessary conditions, their dynamics and their detectable traces in real data. To this end I will overview some models that try to address the effects of biases on language change and evolution, and their implications for experimental and observational studies.

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