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CLASP seminar with Heather Burnett, "A Conceptual Spaces Model of Socially Conditioned Language Change"

Research profile seminar

CLASP seminar with Heather Burnett, "A Conceptual Spaces Model of Socially Conditioned Language Change".

Since the mid 1990s, the development of mathematical and computational models of language variation and change, such as (Clark and Roberts, 1993; Niyogi and Berwick, 1997; Yang, 2000; Yang, 2002; Kauhanen and Walkden, 2018) among others, has yielded enormous advances in our understanding of the cognitive processes that underly these phenomena. However, although it has been observed since at least (Labov, 1963) that many (if not most) linguistic changes are socially conditioned, formal models have been almost exclusively focused on the grammatical and/or psychological aspects of change, neglecting its social aspects. On the other hand, many non-mathematically oriented approaches in sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology (see (Bucholtz and Hall, 2005; Bucholtz and Hall, 2008) for an overview) have stressed the role that social meaning, ideologies and identity construction play in language use, and they have developed articulated theories of how meaning and ideological structure mediate the relation between social change and language change. The goal of this paper is to outline a model which brings together insights from identity-oriented theories of language change and unites them with formal theories of language use and understanding. More specifically, we use (Gärdenfors, 2000; Gärdenfors, 2014)¿s Conceptual Spaces framework to formalize speaker/listener ideological change and use epistemic game theory, particularly signaling games with an iterated best response solution concept, such as the Rational Speech Act model (RSA) (Franke, 2009; Frank and Goodman, 2012; Burnett, 2017) to formalize the link between ideology, linguistic meaning and language use. We then show how this new framework can be used to shed light on the mechanisms underlying socially-motivated change in French grammatical gender.

Lecturer: Heather Burnett (LLF, CNRS Université Paris Diderot) (joint work with Olivier Bonami)

Date: 2/27/2019

Time: 1:15 PM - 3:00 PM

Categories: Linguistics

Location: Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science

Contact person: stergios chatzikyriakidis

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