Alien symbols for alien language: Iterated learning in a unique, novel signal space

Christine Cuskley

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

Studies in iterated learning of artificial ‘alien’ languages show that structure in language can arise from the process of cultural transmission (Kirby, Cornish, & Smith, 2008). Structure can accumulate not only in iterated artificial language learning (ALL) tasks, but also in iterated sequence learning tasks which are not explicitly linguistic (e.g., they contain no meanings, and do not use linguistic stimuli). Meaningless sequences of colours become more structured and more learnable over time (Cornish, Smith, & Kirby, 2013), reproduction of rhythmic sequences results in increased structure, learnability, and emergence of 'musical universals' (Ravignani, Delgado, & Kirby, 2016), and transmission of slide whistles can result increased structure (Verhoef, Kirby, & Boer, 2014). Where signals are mapped onto meanings, the relationships between these two spaces can have significant effects on the resulting structure (Little, Erylmaz, & Boer, 2017). While the signals and modalities with which iterated learning studies are conducted have expanded considerably in recent years, how properties of signal spaces interact with biases of learners in the emergence of structure is relatively under-studied.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 12th International Conference on the Evolution of Language
EditorsChristine Cuskley, Molly Flaherty, Hannah Little, Luke McCrohon, Andrea Ravignani, Tessa Verhoef
ISBN (Electronic)9788323139911
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2018
EventEvoLang XII: Evolution of Language: The 12th International Conference - Nicolas Copernicus University, Torun, Poland
Duration: 16 Apr 201819 Apr 2018
Conference number: 12


ConferenceEvoLang XII
Abbreviated titleEvoLang XII
Internet address


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    Christine Cuskley (Organiser) & Sean Roberts (Participant)

    28 Sept 201620 Aug 2017

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