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Language Phenomena, Complex Behaviours, and Network Effects

Complexity & Networks seminar series, Imperial College London(s)
When Oct 22, 2013
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
Where Gabor Seminar Room, Imperial College London
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Title: Language Phenomena, Complex Behaviours, and Network Effects

Speaker:  Dr Michał B. Paradowski

Institute of Applied Linguistics
University of Warsaw


Throughout history language sciences have been dealing with numerous phenomena that are either inherently complex/dynamic systems, or which display typical qualities of such systems. Within an individual, one can bring to mind perceptual dynamics and categorisation in speech, the emergence of phonological templates, or word and sentence processing; across society, think variations and typology, the rise of new grammatical constructions, semantic bleaching, language evolution in general, and the spread and competition of both individual expressions, and entire languages.

A representative handful of language phenomena will be depicted which have been known to exhibit such properties as hysteresis, phase transition, bifurcation, attractor states, or power law distribution. The multifaceted dynamism and complexity will also be discussed of the process of language acquisition, highlighting the importance of adopting designs with different timescales in order to trace language development as a process of change over time, of the utility of time-series analyses, and of the ability to determine optimal temporal integration windows, e.g. in analyses of dynamic motifs in human communication.

Finally, the results of the author’s two small-scale SNA research projects will be presented, one investigating the social spread of linguistic innovation, the other the role of peer influence on the speed and success of second language acquisition.

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