The Role of Speaker Prestige in Synthetic Language Evolution

Furman, G and Nitschke, G (2021) The Role of Speaker Prestige in Synthetic Language Evolution, Proceedings of Conference on Artificial Life (ALIFE 2021).

[thumbnail of 2021-The Role of Speaker Prestige in Synthetic Language Evolution.pdf] Text
2021-The Role of Speaker Prestige in Synthetic Language Evolution.pdf

Download (578kB)


Many researchers hypothesize that language adaptation, as with other evolutionary processes, entails both directed selection and random drift. However, the specific contributions of these processes to language evolution remains an open question. It is well established that language evolution is not necessarily driven by selection, for example, speakers preferring specific word variants. Extending related work, we use computational agent-based models to elucidate the impact of individual-level bias (speaker prestige) on population-level dynamics (average word similarity), where word diversity is measured by Levenshtein similarity. Agents interacted in iterative language games, to name and thus converse about resource types (A, B). Such object types represented conversation topics, where resource value indicated agent bias for conversing about (evolving words for) popular topics. For a null model comparison, we comparatively evaluated random drift versus directed word evolution on evolving word similarity, where using directed evolution, agent bias for adopting specific words (about resource types) increased with speaker agent social prestige (fitness). While previous work has demonstrated selective advantages of various forms of speaker sociolinguistic prestige including competing word variants and borrowed words, there has been little research on the impact of speaker prestige on word diversity in language evolution.

Item Type: Conference paper
Subjects: Computing methodologies > Machine learning
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2021 11:23
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2021 11:23

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item