- Efficient coding in speech sounds: Cultural evolution and the emergence of structure in artificial languages
- Award date
- 27 September 2013
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication (ACLC)
No species on this planet other than mankind uses a system for communication as intricate as human language. What is the origin of this unique form of communication? This is a question that has fascinated researchers since long ago and the work presented in this thesis belongs to the scientific field in which it is studied. The specific area addressed in this thesis is cultural evolution and the emergence of structure in sound systems used for speech. Speech sounds are organised: a limited number of meaningless sound primitives are systematically combined to form words. Complex rules determine which combinations of sounds are correct in a language and which are not. How this property emerged is still unclear. In this thesis I use experiments with human participants and computer simulations to study how sound systems emerge, develop and are preserved when being transmitted over generations. One of the main aims is to investigate to what extent structures in sound systems for speech can be explained as the result of general cognitive biases and the process of cultural transmission.
- Research conducted at: Universiteit van Amsterdam
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