THE ROLE NON-TYPICAL LANGUAGE USERS PLAY IN LANGUAGE EVOLUTION & UNIVERSALS

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Informatics

Abstract

Typical human children in the presence of adequate language input become native speakers of the input language(s) with relative ease and efficiency. It has been proposed that both cognitive biases and cognitive-external pressures when learning and using languages shape languages themselves, leading to the so-called 'universals' of language that can be observed in typological data. Biases have been proposed as explanations of semantic universals (e.g. Chemla, Buccola & Dautriche, 2019), phonological universals (eg. White, 2014), morphological universals (e.g. Kurumada and Grimm, 2019) and syntactic universals (e.g. Culbertson and Newport, 2015). Developmental aspects of language have, therefore, been linked to language universals and language change. Much less well examined is the role of atypical language learners and users in shaping language. The vast majority of experiments carried out within this theoretical paradigm focus on monolingual, neurotypical individuals. However, there are non-insignificant numbers of neuroatypical people and those with language disorders, many of whom are fully immersed in a language community.In some instances, it is possible to see language changes which have likely been driven by atypical users (such as '/s', to indicate sarcasm, used online primarily by users with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) who otherwise may not be able to detect sarcasm). Atypical individuals have the potential both to adapt to and to change the language used around them by typical individuals.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S022481/1 31/03/2019 29/09/2027
2415165 Studentship EP/S022481/1 31/08/2020 30/08/2024 Lauren Fletcher