Cognitive biases and word order universals in the lab

The 1 March lecture will be given by Jennifer Culbertson and will be about cognitive biases in word ordering.

Abstract: In this talk, I will discuss the connection between the typological distribution of word orders in the noun phrase, and cognitive biases active during learning. In particular, I set out two such biases – one for structural simplicity, and one for semantic naturalness – and test how they interact to drive the behavior of adults and children in a series of artificial language learning experiments. The findings across these experiments suggest that developmental and native language transfer effects play a role in how new linguistic patterns are learned. Nevertheless, both simplicity and naturalness also shape learning outcomes in a way that aligns closely with the typology, providing a possible explanation for the frequency of particular patterns across the world’s languages.

Free entry for members, £2 for non-members.

18:00 doors for an 18:15 start.

Don’t forget to join us at the pub afterwards!


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