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 International Conference on Complex Systems (ICCS2007)

Creating Language across Three Time-Scales: Processing, Acquisition

Morton Christiansen
Department of Psychology, Cornell Univeristy

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     Last modified: October 18, 2007

Questions concerning language processing, acquisition and evolution
have been treated as reasonably separate domains that can be addressed more or less
independently. In this talk I argue that this tendency is misguided;
that there are strong constraints between each of these areas, that
allows each to throw light on the others. I will propose an
integrated perspective on how language is 'created' across the three
different time-scales: the time-scale of seconds in which particular
utterances are spoken and understood; the time-scale of years over
which the child (re-)creates the language of the community; and the
time-scale of hundreds and thousands of years, over which languages
themselves evolve. Drawing on examples from my work in
psycholinguistics, computational linguistics, connectionist modeling,
language acquisition, and language evolution, I plan to sketch a
unified framework, which I'm currently developing, for understanding
language creation across each of these time-scales.

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