Hannah Little

Postal address:

Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Artificial Intelligence Lab
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussels

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


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...

Conference Proceedings

2015 van der Ham, Sabine, Hannah Little, Kerem Eryilmaz and Bart de Boer. "Experimental Evidence on the Emergence of Phonological Structure." In: The proceedings of The 13th International Cognitive Linguistics Conference (ICLC-13).  20-25 July 2015. Newcastle, England.

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. 

2013 Little, Hannah and Sabine van der Ham. "The challenges of investigating the emergence of speech with artificial language learning experiments". In: 3rd Linguistic Conference for Doctoral Students: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Language, Discourse, and Culture (STaPs). pp. 45-46. 5-6 April, 2013. Heidelberg, Germany.

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)



2014 Little, Hannah. "It’s not all in your mind: Modality affects the emergence of combinatorial structure." Poster presentation. VUB PhD Day. 22 May 2014. Brussels, Beglium. 

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 FeminismLabLit and the now defunct Twentyfirstfloor.

Another varied and ridiculously noncomprehensive selection of my posts:

You can follow me on twitter here.