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Cambridge Language Sciences

Interdisciplinary Research Centre

The Cambridge Linguistics Forum has the pleasure to host Prof Anita Mehta (University of Oxford), who will be giving a talk entitled 'Language dynamics - what we hear and how we hear it'.

There will be a coffee reception on the ground floor from 4pm. The talk will be 4.30-6pm.


Language dynamics - what we hear and how we hear it

Speech perception and the evolution of languages have a long and rich history in the domain of linguistics research. I will, in this talk, present a physicist's take on aspects of each of these two topics. In the first part, I'll describe a minimal model of the way in which a listener deciphers a string of sounds and tries to reconstruct a word, both with and without mishearings. This will lead to a phase diagram with a separation between regions of easy and hard decipherability. In the second part of the talk, I'll describe a model of the evolution of participles, and show that the inclusion of true dynamical competition does better than Ringe and Yang's threshold principle (2016) in explaining the survival of particular forms. The last part of this talk concerns the data analysis of a study of audiovisual cognition in a mixed-literacy population, where the use of fluctuations, rather than averages, is able to produce good data collapse from initially rather noisy data.

Thursday, 30 May, 2019 - 16:00 to 18:00
Contact name: 
Julie Heine
Contact email: 
Event location: 
English Faculty Building, SR-24 (second floor)

What we do

Cambridge Language Sciences is an Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge. Our virtual network connects researchers from five schools across the university as well as other world-leading research institutions. Our aim is to strengthen research collaborations and knowledge transfer across disciplines in order to address large-scale multi-disciplinary research challenges relating to language research.