Why Synonymy Is Rare: Fitness Is in the Speaker
- 1.4k Downloads
Pure synonymy is rare. By contrast, homonymy is common in languages. Human avoidance of synonymy is plausibly innate, as theorists of differing persuasions have claimed. Innate dispositions to synonymy and homonymy are modelled here, in relation to alternative roles of speaking and hearing in determining fitness.
In the computer model, linguistic signs are acquired via different genetically determined strategies, variously (in)tolerant to synonymy or homonymy. The model defines communicative success as the probability of a speaker getting a message across to a hearer; interpretive success is the probability of a hearer correctly interpreting a speaker’s signal. Communicative and interpretive success are compared as bases for reproductive fitness. When communicative success is the basis for fitness, a genotype evolves which is averse to synonymy, while tolerating homonymy. Conversely, when interpretive success is the basis for fitness, a genotype evolves which is averse to homonymy, while tolerating synonymy.
KeywordsHuman Language Communicative Success Communicative Potential Linguistic Sign Coevolutionary Interaction
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 1.Ackley, D., Littman, M.: Altruism in the Evolution of Communication. Artificial Life 4, 40–48 (1994)Google Scholar
- 5.Kirby, S., Hurford, J.R.: Learning, culture and evolution in the origin of linguistic constraints. In: Husbands, P., Harvey, I. (eds.) Fourth European Conference on Artificial Life. MIT Press, Cambridge (1997)Google Scholar
- 6.Kirby, S., Hurford, J.R.: The Emergence of Linguistic Structure: An overview of the Iterated Learning Model. In: Cangelosi, A., Parisi, D. (eds.) Simulating the Evolution of Language. Springer, Heidelberg (2002)Google Scholar
- 7.Markman, E.M.: Categorization and Naming in Children: Problems of Induction. MIT Press, Cambridge (1989) [esp. Chs 8 & 9]Google Scholar
- 8.Oliphant, M., Batali, J.: Learning and the Emergence of Coordinated Communication. Center for Research on Language Newsletter, 11(1). University of California, San Diego (1997)Google Scholar
- 9.Pinker, S.: Language Learnability and Language Development. Harvard University Press, Cambridge (1984)Google Scholar
- 10.Smith, K.: The Importance of Rapid Cultural Convergence in the Evolution of Learned Symbolic Communication. In: Advances in Artificial Life: Proceedings of the 6th European Conference on Artificial Life, pp. 637–640 (2001)Google Scholar
- 12.Smith, K.: The Transmission of Language: models of biological and cultural evolution, PhD thesis, University of Edinburgh (2003)Google Scholar
- 13.Steels, L.: The Talking Heads Experiment. Words and Meanings, vol. 1. Laboratorium, Antwerpen (1999) (special pre-edition)Google Scholar
- 14.Steels, L., Kaplan, F., McIntyre, A., van Looveren, J.: Crucial Factors in the Origins of Word-Meaning. In: Wray, A. (ed.) The Transition to Language. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2002)Google Scholar
- 15.Werner, G., Dyer, M.: Evolution of Communication in Artificial Organisms. Artificial Life 2, 659–687 (1992)Google Scholar
- 16.Wexler, P., Culicover, P.: Formal Principles of Language Acquisition. MIT Press, Cambridge (1980)Google Scholar