CUDAN@ The TÜling talk series

When: 2021-04-27 16:00-17:15 (Tallinn time)
Where: CUDAN Open Lab (online)

The event was public via zoom. Website:

Abstract – CUDAN Senior Research Fellow Andres Karjus will give a talk at the The TÜling talk series on Competition, selection and communicative need in language change.

Diachronic text corpora, both those spanning centuries and those mined from the web over shorter time spans, enable a usage-based approach to the study of evolutionary dynamics in languages, supported by advances in natural language processing for quantifying meaning. In this talk, I introduce recent work on inferring lexical dynamics, drift and selection processes, and topical shifts from corpora of multiple languages and genres, and a communication experiment designed to probe individual-level lexification processes. This all is driven by an overarching hypothesis is that language change is, among other things, driven by changes in the speakers’ communicative needs. The artificial language communication experiment was designed to investigate two related hypotheses concerning lexification dynamics proposed a recent cross-linguistic study. The experiment replicates the typological tendencies but also provides support for the communicative need hypothesis. I will argue that combining these different approaches – cross-linguistic research, population-level information from diachronic corpora, and experiments with human participants – allows for a more complete picture of language change to be revealed than any one method alone could.

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