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Histoire et Ecologie du LANgage et des LANgues

Themes and actions

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Linguistic complexity and spoken communication at the intersection of cognitive and ecological constraints


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Christophe COUPE , Egidio MARSICO , Yoon Mi OH , Francois PELLEGRINO , Geraldine WALTHER

Scientific framework and objectives

Language is a complex adaptive system (Beckner et al., 2009). Such a linguistic system is constantly in evolution under the pressure of numerous constraints, especially at the cognitive and socio-ecological levels. These constraints and the interactions among the system components yield emerging patterns, such as the well-known Zipf law, for instance. Our work studies the way linguistic information (in Shannon’s sense) is organized both within linguistic systems and along the speech flow. We aim to shed light on adaptation and regulation processes at play in linguistic systems through the prism of complexity and information measurements developed in quantitative and cross-language approaches. Beckner, C., Blythe, R., Bybee, J., Christiansen, M., Croft, W., Ellis, N., et al. 2009. “Language is a complex adaptive system: Position paper”. Language Learning, 59(1)


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