Hannah Little

Postal address:

Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Artificial Intelligence Lab
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussels

Room: 10G724
Phone: +32(0)26291227

Exciting things

If you would like to participate in one of my experiments, you can do so HERE.

I am currently inviting submissions for a special issue on the emergence of phonetics and phonology for the Journal of Language Evolution, for which I am guest editor. The call for papers is HERE

I recently organised a satellite event at this year's ICPhS, the program and proceedings can still be viewed here: http://ai.vub.ac.be/ICPhS


I wrote the cover article for the next issue of Babel Magazine about my experiments. 

You can view me recently doing stand up about Animal Communication here.

Are you based in or around Brussels? Sign up to participate in one of my experiments!


I am a PhD student supervised by Bart de Boer working on the ABACUS project. I am using cultural learning and signal creation experiments to explore the emergence of combinatorial structure in speech-like signals. Specifically, I'm interested in how the dynamics of signal-meaning mappings are affected by linguistic modalities and artificial articulation proxies, and how these dynamics inform the nature of linguistic structure which emerges in experimental contexts.

I have an MSc in the Evolution of Language and Cognition from the Language Evolution and Computation unit (LEC) at the University of Edinburgh where my dissertation looked at the role of foreigner-directed speech in the cultural transmission of language and the resulting effects on language typology. I also have a BA in English Language and Linguistics with first class honours from The University of York where my dissertation looked at the unification of case markers and postpositions in Hungarian.

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Journal Aricles

Coming soon...


Edited Conference Proceedings

2015 Little, Hannah. The Evolution of Phonetic Capabilities


Conference Proceedings

2016 Little, Hannah, Kerem Eryilmaz and Bart de Boer. "Differing signal-meaning dimensionalities facilitates the emergence of structure." In S.G. Roberts, C. Cuskley, L. McCrohon, L. Barceló-Coblijn, O. Feher & T. Verhoef (eds.)   The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 11th international conference (EvoLangXI). New Orleans, USA.

2016 Little, Hannah, Kerem Eryilmaz and Bart de Boer. "Emergence of Signal Structure: Effects of Duration Constraints." In S.G. Roberts, C. Cuskley, L. McCrohon, L. Barceló-Coblijn, O. Feher & T. Verhoef (eds.)  The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 11th international conference (EvoLangXI). New Orleans, USA.

2016 Eryilmaz, Kerem, Hannah Little and Bart de Boer. "Using HMMs to Attribute Structure to Artificial Languages." In In S.G. Roberts, C. Cuskley, L. McCrohon, L. Barceló-Coblijn, O. Feher & T. Verhoef (eds.)  The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 11th international conference (EvoLangXI). New Orleans, USA.

2015 Little, Hannah, Kerem Eryilmaz and Bart de Boer. "A new artificial signal-space proxy for investigating the emergence of structure and categories in speech." In The Scottish Consortium for ICPhS 2015 (Ed.), Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. Glasgow, UK: the University of Glasgow. Paper number 31.

2014 Little, Hannah and Catriona Silvey. "Interpreting emerging structures: the interdependence of combinatoriality and compositionality." In: The Proceedings of the First Conference of the International Association for Cognitive Semiotics (IACS 2014). pp 113-114. 25-27 September, 2014. Lund, Sweden.

2014 Little, Hannah and Bart de Boer. "The effect of size of articulation space on the emergence of combinatorial structure". In: Erica A. Cartmill, Seán Roberts, Heidi Lyn & Hannah Cornish, ed., The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 10th international conference (EvoLangX). pp. 479-481. 14-17 April, 2014. Vienna, Austria.

 2014 Little, Hannah and Kerem Eryilmaz "The effect of physical articulation constraints on the emergence of combinatorial structure". In: Bart de Boer & Tessa Verhoef, ed., The proceedings of the EVOLANG X Workshop on evolution of signals, speech and signs. pp.11-17. 14th April, 2014. Vienna, Austria.

2014 Littauer, Richard, Seán G. Roberts, James Winters, Rachael Bailes, Michael Pleyer and Hannah Little. "From the Savannah to the Cloud: Blogging Evolutionary Linguistics research". In: Luke McCrohon, Bill Thompson, Tessa Verhoef & Hajime Yamauchi, ed., The Past, Present and Future of Language Evolution Research. Student Volume of the 9th International Conference on the Evolution of Language. pp 121-133. 17th March, 2014. 

2013 Wilson, Jack, J. and Hannah Little. "Emerging languages in Esoteric and Exoteric Niches: evidence from Rural Sign Languages". In: Ways to Potolanguage 3 book of abstracts. pp. 54-55. 25-26 May, 2013. Wroclaw, Poland. 

2012  Littauer, Richard, James Winters, Seán G. Roberts, Hannah Little, Michael Pleyer and Bill Benzon. "Academic Research in the Blogosphere: Adapting to new opportunities and risks on the internet". In: Jan Christoph Meister, ed., Digital Humanities 2012 Conference Abstracts, pp. 268 -269. 16 -22 July, 2012. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

2012 Little, Hannah  "The Role of Foreigner-Directed Speech in Language Evolution". Poster Presentation. European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association Annual Meeting 2012 Poster Abstracts, pp. 7. 25-28 March, 2012. Durham, UK.


Book Reviews

2014 Little, Hannah. Review of Denis Bouchard: The Nature and Origin of Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Linguist List 25(4460)



2015 van der Ham, Sabine, Hannah Little, Kerem Eryilmaz and Bart de Boer. "Experimental Evidence on the Emergence of Phonological Structure." In: The 13th International Cognitive Linguistics Conference Theme Session Abstracts. pp. 44. 20-25 July 2015. Newcastle, UK. 

2015 Little, Hannah. "An extheremental investigation into modality and the emergence of structure." Invited guest lecture. LEC Talk. 17 March 2015, Language Evolution and Compution Unit at the University of Edinburgh, UK. 

2014 Little, Hannah. "Experiments in the Emergence of Combinatorial Structure: Considering the Limitations of Articulation Space Proxies". Poster presentation. Nijmegen Lectures. 28 January 2014. Nijmegen, Netherlands.

2013 Wilson, Jack, J. and Hannah Little. "From Pragmatics to etymology: Evidence from Rural Sign Languages". Oral presentation. Language at Leeds PGR Group. 28 November 2013. Leeds, UK. 

2013 Little, Hannah and Sabine van der Ham. "The challenges of investigating the emergence of speech with artificial language learning experiments". Oral presentation. Experimental Linguistics Talks Utrecht. 15th April 2013. Utrecht, Netherlands.

2011 Little, Hannah  "The Role of Foreigner Directed Speech in the Cultural Transmission of Language & the resulting effects on Language Typology". Poster Presentation. 30th Language at Edinburgh Lunch. 1st December 2011. Edinburgh, UK. 


Public Engagement

Outside of Language Evolution, I spent some time working full-time in the UK in Science Communication and Public Engagement. I endeavour to stay an active member and contributor of the public engagement community in Europe. My attempts so far have included:

More detail on my experience in Science Communication can be found in my CV (linked at the top of the page) or please feel free to email me with any collaboration ideas, calls for help or offers of work. 


Online Engagement

I blog about evolutionary linguistics at http://replicatedtypo.com/ 

Here is a varied and ridiculously noncomprehensive selection of my posts:

I have also been known to blog about science communication, skepticism and gender equality issues, sometimes all at the same time, on Geek Feminism and LabLit .

You can follow me on twitter here.