Navigation Links
Survival of the fittest: Linguistic evolution in practice
Date:12/8/2011

(Washington, DC) A new study of how compound word formation is influenced by subtle forms of linguistic pressure demonstrates that words which "sound better" to the speakers of a language have a higher chance of being created, suggesting that, like biological organisms, words are subject to selection pressures that play a role in deciding which words become part of a language over time.

The study, "Grammars leak: Modeling how phonotactic generalizations interact within the grammar," to be published in the December 2011 issue of the scholarly journal Language, is authored by Andrew Martin, of the Laboratory for Language Development at the RIKEN Brain Science Center in Wako, Japan. A preprint version is available on line at: http://lsadc.org/info/documents/2011/press-releases/martin.pdf

Different languages are marked by the different restrictions they place on which sounds are permitted to occur in words. In English, for example, long consonants are not allowed within single morphemes (units of meaning), but they are permitted in compound words like bookcase, where two identical consonants are located next to each other across the boundary between the two morphemes. Compare the pronunciation of the /p/ in car pool versus carp poolthe two compound words differ only in the length with which the /p/ is held.

Before now, the rules in English that govern long consonants have been stated simply: they are forbidden within morphemes, but if a long consonant is created by combining two words to form a compound, then it's allowed. "In my paper, however, I present evidence from a corpus of written English that things are not so neatin fact, when English speakers create compounds, they tend to avoid creating compounds like bookcase that contain long consonants, even though these words are permitted by the rules of English" Dr. Martin commented. One implication of these findings is that the sounds in a word can subtly bias the choices people make about whether or not to create that word, or use it once created, ultimately influencing which words "catch on" and which die out.

This research also tells us something about how the rules within a language are interrelated. It would be simple to build a computer, for example, that could learn that long consonants are forbidden in one context, and completely acceptable in another context. Humans don't seem to work this way, thoughwhen they learn that something is forbidden in one context, they can't help but think that the same thing doesn't sound very good even in a completely different context. This connectivity must be taken into account when building models of how people learn and store the rules of their language.


'/>"/>

Contact: Alyson Reed
areed@lsadc.org
202-835-1714
Linguistic Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Law enforcement vital for great ape survival
2. Addition of trastuzumab may potentially equalize disease-free survival outcomes among obese and normal-weight patients
3. Environmental conditions and predators affect Atlantic salmon survival in the Gulf of Maine
4. Biodiversity can promote survival on a warming planet
5. Gray jays winter survival depends on food storage, study shows
6. Salmon and other fish predators rely on no guts, no glory survival tactic
7. Gene flux can foretell survival for trauma patients, Princeton study finds
8. Sensory experience and rest control survival of newborn neurons in adults
9. Trastuzumab and chemotherapy improved survival in HER2-postive breast and brain cancer patients
10. Bacteria develop restraint for survival in a rock-paper-scissors community
11. A drug combination extends survival in refractory lung cancer patients
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/1/2016)... 2016 Rising sales of consumer ... touchfree intuitive gesture control market size ... of consumer electronics coupled with new technological advancements to ... size through 2020   --> ... technological advancements to drive global touchfree intuitive gesture control ...
(Date:1/28/2016)... JOSE, Calif., Jan. 28, 2016 Synaptics (NASDAQ: SYNA ... results for its second quarter ended December 31, 2015. ... second quarter of fiscal 2016 increased 2 percent compared to the ... second quarter of fiscal 2016 was $35.0 million, or $0.93 per ... Non-GAAP net income for the first quarter of fiscal 2016 grew ...
(Date:1/25/2016)... Software, the world-leading supplier of image data management solutions ... data management solution OMERO Plus for the newly established ... Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160125/325328LOGO ... analysis measures the characteristics and behavior of cells, tissues ... as health and disease, the presence or absence of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/3/2016)... , ... February 03, 2016 , ... ... Linux and Unix visualization solutions today announced the addition of a powerful “Session ... users to see the current state of the remote Linux desktop or other ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... Calif. , Feb. 3, 2016  Today, Symphony ... of AlphaImpactRx , a leading provider of primary ... companies to IMS Health , a global information ... complementary offerings, capabilities and technologies will be integrated into ... growing global primary market research capabilities. ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... NEW YORK. (PRWEB) , ... February 03, 2016 ... ... manufacturer of silicon (Si) and InGaAs chips and wafers, and InP epi wafers ... ranging from silicon detectors–including photodiodes, photo transistors, and Avalanche photodiodes–to Si and ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... YORK , Feb. 2, 2016 ... clusters of commensal, symbiotic and pathogenic microorganisms that ... human body. The human microbiome is involved in ... healthy life. Majority of the microorganisms benefit humans ... otherwise not possess. These include metabolism of complex ...
Breaking Biology Technology: