Experiments in Cultural Language Evolution

The fascinating question of the origins and evolution of language has been drawing a lot of attention recently, not only from linguists, but also from anthropologists, evolutionary biologists, and brain scientists. This groundbreaking book explores the cultural side of language evolution. It proposes a new overarching framework based on linguistic selection and self-organization and explores it in depth through sophisticated computer simulations and robotic experiments. Each case study investigates how a particular type of language system can emerge in a population of language game playing agents and how it can continue to evolve in order to cope with changes in ecological conditions. Case studies cover on the one hand the emergence of concepts and words for proper names, color terms, names for bodily actions, spatial terms and multi-dimensional words. The second set of experiments focuses on the emergence of grammar, specifically case grammar for expressing argument structure, functional grammar for expressing different uses of spatial relations, internal agreement systems for marking constituent structure, morphological expression of aspect, and quantifiers expressed as articles. The book is ideally suited as study material for an advanced course on language evolution and it will be of interest to anyone who wonders how human languages may have originated.
You can order the book through John Benjamins.

Contributions

Introduction

  • [PDF] L. Steels, “Self-organization and Selection in Cultural Language Evolution,” in Experiments in Cultural Language Evolution, L. Steels, Ed., Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2012, pp. 1-37.
    [Bibtex]
    @incollection{steels-intro,
      Address = {Amsterdam},
      Author = {Steels, Luc},
      Booktitle = {{E}xperiments in {C}ultural {L}anguage {E}volution},
      Date-Added = {2012-02-21 08:15:44 +0000},
      Date-Modified = {2012-02-21 08:15:44 +0000},
      Editor = {Steels, Luc},
      Publisher = {John Benjamins},
    pages = {1 -- 37},
      Title = {Self-organization and Selection in Cultural Language Evolution},
      Year = {2012}}

Part I: Emergence of perceptually grounded vocabularies

  • [PDF] L. Steels and M. Loetzsch, “The Grounded Naming Game,” in Experiments in Cultural Language Evolution, L. Steels, Ed., Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2012, pp. 41-59.
    [Bibtex]
    @incollection{steels-naming,
      Address = {Amsterdam},
      Author = {Steels, Luc and Loetzsch, Martin},
      Booktitle = {{E}xperiments in {C}ultural {L}anguage {E}volution},
      Date-Added = {2012-02-21 08:15:52 +0000},
      Date-Modified = {2012-02-21 08:15:52 +0000},
      Editor = {Steels, Luc},
    pages = {41 -- 59},
      Publisher = {John Benjamins},
      Title = {The Grounded Naming Game},
      Year = {2012}}
  • [PDF] J. Bleys, “Language Strategies for Color,” in Experiments in Cultural Language Evolution, L. Steels, Ed., Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2012, pp. 61-85.
    [Bibtex]
    @incollection{bleys,
      Address = {Amsterdam},
      Author = {Bleys, Joris},
      Booktitle = {{E}xperiments in {C}ultural {L}anguage {E}volution},
      Date-Added = {2012-02-21 08:16:02 +0000},
      Date-Modified = {2012-02-21 08:16:02 +0000},
      Editor = {Steels, Luc},
      Publisher = {John Benjamins},
    pages = {61 -- 85},
      Title = {Language Strategies for Color},
      Year = {2012}}
  • [PDF] L. Steels and M. Spranger, “Emergent mirror systems for body language,” in Experiments in Cultural Language Evolution, L. Steels, Ed., John Benjamins, 2012, pp. 87-109.
    [Bibtex]
    @incollection{steels-spranger12mirror,
      Author = {Luc Steels and Michael Spranger},
      Booktitle = {{E}xperiments in {C}ultural {L}anguage {E}volution},
      Date-Added = {2012-02-21 08:18:36 +0000},
      Date-Modified = {2012-02-21 08:19:15 +0000},
      Editor = {Luc Steels},
      Publisher = {John Benjamins},
    pages = {87 -- 109},
      Title = {Emergent mirror systems for body language},
      Year = {2012}}
  • [PDF] M. Spranger, “The co-evolution of basic spatial terms and categories,” in Experiments in Cultural Language Evolution, L. Steels, Ed., John Benjamins, 2012, pp. 111-141.
    [Bibtex]
    @incollection{spranger-space-1,
      Author = {Michael Spranger},
      Booktitle = {{E}xperiments in {C}ultural {L}anguage {E}volution},
      Date-Added = {2012-02-21 08:25:51 +0000},
      Date-Modified = {2012-02-21 08:26:22 +0000},
      Editor = {Luc Steels},
    pages = {111 -- 141},
      Publisher = {John Benjamins},
      Title = {The co-evolution of basic spatial terms and categories},
      Year = {2012}}
  • [PDF] P. Wellens and M. Loetzsch, “Multi-Dimensional Meanings in Lexicon Formation,” in Experiments in Cultural Language Evolution, L. Steels, Ed., Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2012, pp. 143-166.
    [Bibtex]
    @incollection{wellens12adaptive,
      Address = {Amsterdam},
      Author = {Wellens, Pieter and Loetzsch, Martin},
      Booktitle = {{E}xperiments in {C}ultural {L}anguage {E}volution},
      Editor = {Steels, Luc},
      Publisher = {John Benjamins},
    pages = {143 -- 166},
      Title = {Multi-Dimensional Meanings in Lexicon Formation},
      Year = {2012}}

Part II: Emergence of grammatical systems

  • [PDF] R. van Trijp, “The Evolution of Case Systems for Marking Event Structure,” in Experiments in Cultural Language Evolution, L. Steels, Ed., Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2012, pp. 169-205.
    [Bibtex]
    @incollection{vantrijp2012-case,
      Address = {Amsterdam},
      Author = {{v}an Trijp, Remi},
      Booktitle = {{E}xperiments in {C}ultural {L}anguage {E}volution},
      Date-Added = {2012-02-21 08:16:51 +0000},
      Date-Modified = {2012-02-21 11:21:29 +0000},
      Editor = {Steels, Luc},
    pages = {169 -- 205},
      Publisher = {John Benjamins},
      Title = {The Evolution of Case Systems for Marking Event Structure},
      Year = {2012}}
  • [PDF] M. Spranger and L. Steels, “Emergent Functional Grammar for Space,” in Experiments in Cultural Language Evolution, L. Steels, Ed., Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2012, pp. 207-232.
    [Bibtex]
    @incollection{spranger-space-2,
      Address = {Amsterdam},
      Author = {Spranger, Michael and Steels, Luc},
      Booktitle = {{E}xperiments in {C}ultural {L}anguage {E}volution},
      Date-Added = {2012-02-21 08:17:08 +0000},
      Date-Modified = {2012-02-21 08:17:08 +0000},
      Editor = {Steels, Luc},
      Publisher = {John Benjamins},
    pages = {207 -- 232},
      Title = {Emergent Functional Grammar for Space},
      Year = {2012}}
  • [PDF] K. Beuls, L. Steels, and S. Hoefer, “The Emergence of Internal Agreement Systems,” in Experiments in Cultural Language Evolution, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2012, pp. 233-256.
    [Bibtex]
    @incollection{beulsetal12agreement,
      Address = {Amsterdam},
      Author = {Katrien Beuls and Luc Steels and Sebastian Hoefer},
      Booktitle = {{E}xperiments in {C}ultural {L}anguage {E}volution},
      Date-Added = {2011-12-14 14:38:05 +0000},
      Date-Modified = {2012-02-21 11:16:07 +0000},
      Publisher = {John Benjamins},
    pages = {233 -- 256},
      Title = {The Emergence of Internal Agreement Systems},
      Year = {2012}}
  • [PDF] K. Gerasymova, M. Spranger, and K. Beuls, “A language strategy for aspect: Encoding Aktionsarten through morphology,” in Experiments in Cultural Language Evolution, L. Steels, Ed., John Benjamins, 2012, pp. 257-276.
    [Bibtex]
    @incollection{gerasymovaetal12aspect,
      Author = {Kateryna Gerasymova and Michael Spranger and Katrien Beuls},
      Booktitle = {{E}xperiments in {C}ultural {L}anguage {E}volution},
      Date-Added = {2012-02-21 08:19:56 +0000},
      Date-Modified = {2012-02-21 08:20:57 +0000},
      Editor = {Luc Steels},
      Publisher = {John Benjamins},
    pages = {257 -- 276},
      Title = {A language strategy for aspect: Encoding Aktionsarten through morphology},
      Year = {2012}}
  • [PDF] S. Pauw and J. Hilferty, “The emergence of quantifiers,” in Experiments in Cultural Language Evolution, L. Steels, Ed., John Benjamins, 2012, pp. 277-304.
    [Bibtex]
    @incollection{pauw-hilferty12quantifiers,
      Author = {Simon Pauw and Joseph Hilferty},
      Booktitle = {{E}xperiments in {C}ultural {L}anguage {E}volution},
      Date-Added = {2012-02-21 08:17:45 +0000},
      Date-Modified = {2012-02-21 08:18:30 +0000},
      Editor = {Luc Steels},
    pages = {277 -- 304},
      Publisher = {John Benjamins},
      Title = {The emergence of quantifiers},
      Year = {2012}}

Source code

  • The source code of the experiment framework can be downloaded for free at this website as part of the Babel2 experiment framework.

 

Errata