Language Adapts to Interaction Workshop

Organisers: Seán Roberts, Gregory Mills

Monday, 21st March, 2016, New Orleans

See below for Schedule

Language has been shown to be adapted to constraints from many domains such as production, transmission, memory, processing and acquisition. These adaptations and constraints have formed the basis for theories of language evolution, but arguably the primary ecology of language is interaction – face-to-face conversation (Levinson, 2006). Taking turns at talk, repairing problems in communication and organising conversation into contingent sequences seem completely natural to us, but are in fact highly organised, tightly integrated systems (Sacks et al., 1974) which are not shared by any other species. Therefore, the infrastructure for interaction may provide an insight into the origins of our unique communicative abilities (Mills, 2014a; Micklos, 2014).

Indeed, recent studies on interaction have shown that an approach that emphasises interaction can sharpen our understanding of linguistic universals (Kendrick et al., 2014; Dingemanse et al., 2015), ontogeny and acquisition (Hilbrink, et al. 2015; Vogt, 2014), on-line processing constraints (Bögels et al., 2015) and animal signalling (Levinson & Holler, 2014).

The emerging picture is that the infrastructure for interaction is an evolutionary old requirement for the emergence of a complex linguistic system, and for a cooperative, cumulative culture more generally. These issues are also being integrated into computational models of the cultural evolution of linguistic systems (Vogt and Haasdijk, 2010; Roberts, & Levinson, 2015) and are being explored through studies of experimental semiotics (Mills, 2014b; Christensen et al., 2016).

This workshop is interested in addressing the following questions:

Read the Editorial here


Monday, 21st March, 2016

09:00    Improvisation, Interaction and Iteration in the Evolution of Linguistic Structure

            Marieke Schouwstra, Yasmin Motamedi, Kenny Smith, Simon Kirby

10:35   Break

10:45    Repetitive Mutual Hypothesizing Induces Change of Symbol Systems in Graphical Communication

            Kaori Tamura & Takashi Hashimoto

11:10    Childhood Retrieved

            Albert F. H. Naccache

11:35    Adaptors and the Turn-Taking Mechanism

            Przemysław Żywiczyński, Sylwester Orzechowski & Sławomir Wacewicz

12:00   Break

12:35    Communication Without Prior Learning Inhibits the Emergence of Systematic Structure

            Catriona Silvey, Molly Flaherty, Susan Goldin-Meadow, Simon Kirby, Kenny Smith

13:00    Exploring the Role of Interaction in the Emergence of Linguistic Structure

            Vinicius Macuch Silva & Seán Roberts

13:25   Summary and Conclusion

            Gregory Mills

13:45   End

Suggested Readings

Bögels, S., Magyari, L., & Levinson, S. C. (2015). Neural signatures of response planning occur midway through an incoming question in conversation. Scientific Reports, 5: 12881.

Christensen, P., Fusaroli, R., and Tylén, K. (2016). Environmental constraints shaping constituent order in emerging communication systems: Structural iconicity, interactive alignment and conventionalization. Cognition, 146:67–80.

Dingemanse, M., Roberts, S. G., Baranova, J., Blythe, J., Drew, P., Floyd, S., Gisladottir, R. S., Kendrick, K. H., Levinson, S. C., Manrique, E., Rossi, G., & Enfield, N. J. (2015). Universal Principles in the Repair of Communication Problems. PLoS One, 10(9).

Hilbrink, E., Gattis, M., & Levinson, S. C. (2015). Early developmental changes in the timing of turn-taking: A longitudinal study of mother-infant interaction. Frontiers in Psychology, 6: 1492.

Kendrick, K. H., Brown, P., Dingemanse, M., Floyd, S., Gipper, S., Hayano, K., Hoey, E., Hoymann, G., Manrique, E., Rossi, G., & Levinson, S. C. (2014). Sequence organization: A universal infrastructure for action. 4th International Conference on Conversation Analysis. UCLA, CA.

Levinson, S. (2006). On the human interaction engine. In Enfield, N. and Levinson, S., editors, Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Human Interaction, pages 39–69. Oxford: Berg.

Levinson, S. C., & Holler, J. (2014). The origin of human multi-modal communication. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, 369(1651): 2013030.

Micklos, A. (2014) The Nature of Language in Interaction. Proceedings of the 10th Evolution of Language conference. World Scientific: Vienna, Austria.

Mills, G. (2014a) Establishing a communication system: Miscommunication drives Abstraction. Proceedings of the 10th Evolution of Language conference. World Scientific: Vienna, Austria.

Mills, G. J. (2014b). Dialogue in joint activity: complementarity, convergence and conventionalization. New Ideas in Psychology, 32:158–173.

Roberts, S. G. & Levinson (2015) On-line pressures for turn-taking constrain the cultural evolution of word order. Workshop on Cognitive Linguistics and the Evolution of Language, International Cognitive Linguistics Conference, Newcastle University, UK.

Sacks, H., Schegloff, E. A., and Jefferson, G. (1974). A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language, 40(4):696–735.

Vogt, P. (2014) Language acquisition through interactions: A cross-cultural corpus of multimodal interactions with 1-to 2-years old infants. 8th International Conference on Construction Grammar. Osnabrück University, Germany.

Vogt, P. and Haasdijk, E. (2010). Modeling social learning of language and skills. Artificial Life, 16(4):289–309.