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Why has ambiguous syntax emerged?


Höfler, Stefan (2006). Why has ambiguous syntax emerged? In: Cangelosi, A; Smith, A D M; Smith, K. The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on the Evolution of Language. Singapore; London, UK: World Scientific Publishing, 123-130.

Abstract

Ambiguity is a defining property of natural language distinguishing it from artificial languages. It would seem to be dysfunctional, and therefore its ubiquity in language poses an evolutionary puzzle. This paper discusses the implications of a typical iterated learning model on the conditions under which syntactic ambiguity emerges and stabilises in language. It contrasts the purely nativist stance that language imperfections such as syntactic ambiguity are artifacts arising from internal constraints of the genetically determined language faculty with the view that they are frozen accidents persisting because they are easily learnt.

Abstract

Ambiguity is a defining property of natural language distinguishing it from artificial languages. It would seem to be dysfunctional, and therefore its ubiquity in language poses an evolutionary puzzle. This paper discusses the implications of a typical iterated learning model on the conditions under which syntactic ambiguity emerges and stabilises in language. It contrasts the purely nativist stance that language imperfections such as syntactic ambiguity are artifacts arising from internal constraints of the genetically determined language faculty with the view that they are frozen accidents persisting because they are easily learnt.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Computational Linguistics
Dewey Decimal Classification:000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
410 Linguistics
Language:English
Date:2006
Deposited On:04 Feb 2010 13:39
Last Modified:06 Dec 2017 22:29
Publisher:World Scientific Publishing
Official URL:http://www.worldscibooks.com/lifesci/6024.html
Related URLs:http://www.isrl.illinois.edu/~amag/langev/paper/hoefler06whyAmbiguousSyntax.html

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