The Cultural Self-organisation of Cognitive Grammar
This is an international, multi-disciplinary research project on cultural selforganisation in the origins of grammar. The project brings together members from key disciplines relevant to modelling the evolution of language: linguistics, neuroscience, psychology, artificial intelligence, and complex systems. The main hypothesis of the project is that language has emerged and continues to evolve as a cultural selectionist system. This means that generic cognitive abilities, such as associative memory, structural processing, categorisation, etc. have been recruited for language, and that the language system complexifies and changes in the process of cultural transmission. Coherence of a language in a community and the spreading of new features is hypothesised to be due to self-organisation.
Collaborating research groups
VUB AI Lab Brussels, Prof. Luc Steels
The VUB AI Lab will be responsible for the main robotic set-up on which other groups will be able to execute experiments. They will also work on the computational framework for the grammar and the execution of various experiments. Particularly, the experiments for the emergence of a determiner and aspect system will be studied.
Institut des Sciences Cognitives (Lyon, France), Dr. Peter F. Dominey
This group will be responsible for introducing neural realism into the agent's cognitive architectures in order to examine precisely which architectural characteristics might be responsible for certain universal tendencies of grammar. The group will also examine conceptual categorisation in some specific domains, particular the categorisation of action.
Department of Communication Science (Sienna, Italy), Prof. Castelfranchi
This group will be responsible on the one side for developing the theoretical foundations of evolutionary language games by linking to models developed in economics and biology; on the other side for a model of the evolution of tacit conventions, implicit communication and agreements as a basis for "negotiating" linguistic rules.
Institut für Afrikanistik (Cologne, Germany) / Anglistic III (Düsseldorf, Germany), Prof. Heine, Prof. Kouteva
This group's role in the project will be to catalog universal properties of case systems, aspect systems, and determiners and to provide information on grammaticalisation processes as observed in the world's languages. These results will be a target for the computer simulations and robotic experiments carried out by the other partners.
- Cognitive Science (Lund, Sweden), Dr Balkenius The Lund team will be carrying out experiments in grounded language evolution on robotic agents, in strong collaboration with the Brussels team. Some of the components they have already developed are crucial for developing complete agent systems.
Associated research groups
- Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Leipzig, Germany), Prof. Tomasello
- Departamento de Filología Inglesa (Murcia, Spain), Dr. Javier Valenzuela
- Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (Nijmegen, Netherlands), Prof. Bowerman