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Extra-terrestrials, experiments, and language variation

Calendar Tuesday, 15 March 2022
Calendar 16:00-17:00

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There is variation and change in every language, and generations of researchers have dedicated themselves to studying the dynamics of this variation. Where does linguistic variation come from? How do linguistic forms spread through a population? The core of such research is based on linguistic data from natural contexts, along with psycholinguistic experiments that permit researchers control at the expense of naturalness. Usually, however, these methods do not allow us to see languages change before our eyes. In this lecture, I will present examples of experiments where this is possible to a much greater degree. It is made possible through the use of miniature "alien" languages, which participants are asked to learn (or create) and use in simple computer games. This method provides us with considerable control over linguistic, contextual and social variables and gives us the hope of seeing language change happening in a replicable way in the laboratory.

This seminar will be delivered over Zoom in Welsh with simultaneous English translation available.

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