Schouwstra, Marieke; Smith, Kenny; Kirby, Simon. (2020). The emergence of word order conventions: improvisation, interaction and transmission, 2014-2016 [dataset]. University of Edinburgh. https://doi.org/10.7488/ds/2915.
We present an experimental paradigm in which initially-improvised silent gesture is both used for communication and culturally transmitted through artificial generations of lab participants. In experiments 1 and 2 we investigate the respective contributions of communicative interaction and cultural transmission on natural word order behaviour. We show that both interaction and iterated learning lead to a simplification of the word order regime, and the way in which this unfolds over time is surprisingly similar under the two mechanisms. The resulting dominant word order is mostly SVO, the order of the native language of our participants. In experiment 3, we manipulate the frequency of different semantic event types, and show that this can allow SOV order, rather than SVO order, to conventionalise.
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