Simulating the Effects of Cross-Generational Cultural Transmission on Language Change

  • Tao GongEmail author
  • Lan Shuai
Part of the Understanding Complex Systems book series (UCS)


Language evolves in a socio-cultural environment. Apart from biological evolution and individual learning, cultural transmission also casts important influence on many aspects of language evolution. In this paper, based on the lexicon-syntax coevolution model, we extend the acquisition framework in our previous work to examine the roles of three forms of cultural transmission spanning the offspring, parent, and grandparent generations in language change. These transmissions are: those between the parent and offspring generations (PO), those within the offspring generation (OO), and those between the grandparent and offspring generations (GO). The simulation results of the considered model and relevant analyses illustrate not only the necessity of PO and OO transmissions for language change, thus echoing our previous findings, but also the importance of GO transmission, a form of cross-generational cultural transmission, on preserving the mutual understandability of the communal language across generations of individuals.


Language Evolution Cultural Transmission Syntactic Category Communal Language Linguistic Knowledge 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Haskins LaboratoriesNew HavenUSA

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