Linking Early Human Language & Cave Art

Human language is thought to emerge around 100,000 years ago as an abstract symbolic system. It is very likely that humans spoke long before it they wrote. Because the nature of language is largely spoken, it has been hard to find physical evidence of when and how humans began speaking...  Some argue early evidence of... Continue Reading →

Simulated Linguistic Evolution In The Laboratory

About a week ago, I read and posted on a summary piece on cultural evolution research in PLoS Biology. The reviewer introduced me to Simon Kirby's work, which I found remarkable. Kirby and colleagues setup an experiment, one that observed the evolution of an artificial language from a set of random terms to an ordered,... Continue Reading →

Punctuated Equilibrium drives Language Evolution

Fellow blogger, Simon Greenhill of HENRY, and co-authors published a cool paper evaluating language evolution that just came out in today's issue of Science. The premise behind the paper, "Languages Evolve in Punctuational Bursts," is simple to follow. By comparing related versions, or homologs, of common words between the following language families: Indo-European, Bantu, and... Continue Reading →

On the Evolution of Language

Both Nature and PNAS have put out two fascinating papers on the evolution of language. Nature's "Quantifying the evolutionary dynamics of language," studies how grammatical rules change over time, a term the authors call regularization. The authors specifically studied the regularization of English verbs over the past 1,200 years. Here's a summary of what they... Continue Reading →

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