NZILBB Seminar with James Brand

10 October 2018

Experimental diachronics: Investigating language change and evolution in the lab

James Brand from NZILBB at the University of Canterbury delivers the next seminar.

Languages, like living organisms, evolve and diverge by descent. Substantial insights of what drives these changes has been gained by examining social, geographical and cultural processes, but can cognition also play an important role in the way languages change over time? Here, I will present an overview of an emerging body of work exploring how psycholinguistic factors are explaining why words undergo change, and indeed, why they may resist change. Using laboratory based artificial language learning paradigms and novel statistical analyses, psycholinguistic properties of words (such as frequency) can be manipulated and investigated with careful detail and control. Thus, combining this approach with results from cladistics and corpus studies, the aim is to provide robust evidence for cognitive accounts of linguistic change and stability.


  • Friday 23 November 2018
  • 1pm - 2pm
  • Locke 104a