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New paper : COSMO: A Bayesian modeling framework for studying speech communication and the emergence of phonological systems

Monday 30 May 2016
While the origin of language remains a somewhat mysterious process, understanding how human language takes specific forms appears to be accessible by the experimental method. Languages, despite their wide variety, display obvious regularities. In this paper, we attempt to derive some properties of phonological systems (the sound systems for human languages) from speech communication principles. We introduce a model of the cognitive architecture of a communicating agent, called COSMO (for “Communicating about Objects using Sensory–Motor Operations’) that allows a probabilistic expression of the main theoretical trends found in the speech production and perception literature. This enables a computational comparison of these theoretical trends, which helps us to identify the conditions that favor the emergence of linguistic codes. We present realistic simulations of phonological system emergence showing that COSMO is able to predict the main regularities in vowel, stop consonant and syllable systems in human languages.

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