Language research

What are the origins of language?

How did language evolve? This question is among the great unsolved mysteries. Other big questions about our nature as human beings and our place in the universe have at least tentative approaches to answers. Questions like where the universe came from, how life evolved, how human beings evolved as a species... most people can frame at least a rough response. They have a grip on these questions. The question of the origin of language - that capacity perhaps most characteristic of our species - remains mysterious. This is a fundamental scientific challenge.

[click to read more]

Our vision

We investigate ways in which artificial agents can self-organize languages with natural-language like properties and how meaning can co-evolve with language. Our research is based on the hypothesis that language is a complex adaptive system that emerges through adaptive interactions between agents and continues to evolve in order to remain adapted to the needs and capabilities of the agents. We explore this hypothesis by implementing the full cycle of speaker and hearer as they play situated language games and observing the characteristics of the languages that emerge.

Projects

Fluid construction grammar

Evolutionary linguistics

Publications

Degli Esposti, M., Altmann, E. and Pachet, F. Creativity and Universality in Language. Morphogenesis series, Springer, 2016 ISBN: 978-3319244013
2016
view details
van Trijp, R. Towards Bidirectional Processing Models of Sign Language: A Constructional Approach in Fluid Construction Grammar. In Airenti, Gabriella and Bara, Bruni G. and Sandini, Giulio, editor, Proceedings of the EuroAsianPacific Joint Conference on Cognitive Science, pages 668-673, Turin, 2015 University of Torino.
2015
download document
view details
Spranger, M. Potential Stages in the Cultural Evolution of Spatial Language. The Evolution of Language (EVOLANG 9), 2012 accepted
2012
download document
view details
Steels, L., Spranger, M., van Trijp, R., Höfer, S. and Hild, M. Emergent Action Language on Real Robots. In Steels, L. and Hild, M., editor, Language Grounding in Robots, pages 255-276, Springer. New York, 2012
2012
download document
view details
Spranger, M., Loetzsch, M. and Steels, L. A Perceptual System for Language Game Experiments. In Steels, L. and Hild, M., editor, Language Grounding in Robots, pages 89-110, Springer. 2012
2012
download document
view details
Spranger, M. and Steels, L. Emergent Functional Grammar for Space. In Steels, L., editor, Experiments in Cultural Language Evolution, Advances in Interaction Studies (vol. 3), pages 207-232, John Benjamins. Amsterdam, 2012
2012
download document
view details
Spranger, M. and Pauw, S. Dealing with Perceptual Deviation - Vague Semantics for Spatial Language and Quantification. In Steels, L. and Hild, M., editor, Language Grounding in Robots, pages 173-192, Springer. New York, 2012
2012
download document
view details
Gerasymova, K. and Spranger, M. An Experiment in Temporal Language Learning. In Steels, L. and Hild, M., editor, Language Grounding in Robots, pages 237-254, Springer. New York, 2012
2012
download document
view details
Spranger, M. The Co-Evolution of Basic Spatial Terms and Categories. In Steels, L., editor, Experiments in Cultural Language Evolution, Advances in Interaction Studies (vol. 3), pages 111-141, John Benjamins. Amsterdam, 2012
2012
download document
view details