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Brief at the risk of being misunderstood: consolidating population- and individual-level tendencies

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dc.contributor.author Brochhagen, Thomas
dc.date.accessioned 2021-09-16T14:18:54Z
dc.date.issued 2021
dc.identifier.citation Brochhagen T. Brief at the risk of being misunderstood: consolidating population- and individual-level tendencies. Comput Brain Behav. 2021;4:305-17. DOI: 10.1007/s42113-021-00099-x
dc.identifier.issn 2522-0861
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10230/48470
dc.description.abstract Communicative pressures can give rise to regular patterns of language use. These patterns, in turn, can come to shape a language’s structure over time. In a recent study, Kanwal et al. (Cognition, 165:45–52, 2017) investigate whether an interaction of such pressures may underlie the cross-linguistic tendency of frequent forms to be shorter. Using a miniature artificial language, they show that speakers follow this tendency if pressured for brevity and accuracy. In this study, we use probabilistic models of varying complexity to shed light on the individual-level factors behind this trend. We find that a hierarchical model that accommodates for subjects’ heterogeneous beliefs about object frequencies best explains the data. At the population level, this model predicts an association of short forms with frequent meanings, in line with past research. At the individual level, however, it reveals a number of patterns that systematically deviate from this trend. On the one hand, these findings support the hypothesis that individual-level pressures may underlie natural languages’ relationship between frequency and brevity. On the other, by characterizing the individual-level dynamics on which this relationship rests, they highlight the importance of consolidating multiple strata of analysis and of understanding where and why they might diverge.
dc.description.sponsorship This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovarion programme (grant agreement No 715154).
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language.iso eng
dc.publisher Springer
dc.relation.ispartof Computational Brain & Behavior. 2021;4:305-17.
dc.rights © Springer The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s42113-021-00099-x.
dc.title Brief at the risk of being misunderstood: consolidating population- and individual-level tendencies
dc.type info:eu-repo/semantics/article
dc.identifier.doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s42113-021-00099-x
dc.subject.keyword Zipf's law of abbreviation
dc.subject.keyword Language universals
dc.subject.keyword Rational language use
dc.subject.keyword Least effort
dc.subject.keyword Ambiguity
dc.subject.keyword Efficient communication
dc.relation.projectID info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/EC/H2020/715154
dc.rights.accessRights info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess
dc.type.version info:eu-repo/semantics/acceptedVersion

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