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A Bottom-up approach to the cultural evolution of bilingualism

By Seán G. Roberts

Abstract

The relationship between individual cognition and cultural phenomena at the society level can be transformed by cultural transmission (Kirby, Dowman, & Griffiths, 2007). Top-down models of this process have typically assumed that individuals only adopt a single linguistic trait. Recent extensions include ‘bilingual ’ agents, able to adopt multiple linguistic traits (Burkett & Griffiths, 2010). However, bilingualism is more than variation within an individual: it involves the conditional use of variation with different interlocutors. That is, bilingualism is a property of a population that emerges from use. A bottom-up simulation is presented where learners are sensitive to the identity of other speakers. The simulation reveals that dynamic social structures are a key factor for the evolution of bilingualism in a population, a feature that was abstracted away in the top-down models. Top-down and bottom-up approaches may lead to different answers, but can work together to reveal and explore important features of the cultural transmission process

Topics: Language, Cultural evolution, Bilingualism, Bottom-up
Year: 2013
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:10.1.1.371.610
Provided by: CiteSeerX
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