Regier for Cognition and Language, Thursday

The next in this quarter’s Cognition and Language series will be Terry Regier (Berkeley). Come to CSLI, Cordura 100 at 3pm on Thursday 2/21 to hear his talk on “Word Meanings Across Languages Reflect General Communicative Principles”.

A central question in cognitive science is why languages have the semantic categories they do. Word meanings vary widely across languages, but this variation is constrained: words with similar or identical meanings often appear in unrelated languages. I will argue that this wide but constrained variation reflects the functional need for efficient and informative communication. I will present a series of computational simulations illustrating how these ideas can account for cross-language variation in three semantic domains: color, spatial relations, and kinship.