Anthony Kroch, University of Pennsylvania
Thursday, June 30th
6:45-8:00 PM Reception, La Sala de Puerto Rico (W20-2nd floor)
8:00-9:30 PM Talk, Kresge Auditorium (W16-109)
Commentator: Jay Jasanoff
Modeling Language Change
Trying to understand how linguistic changes spread through populations, historical linguistics has begun to adopt mathematical modeling techniques that have been in use for some time in biology and other sciences. One family of models, which has arisen out of generative work on language acquisition, projects language change using update functions derived from abstract characterizations of the nature of language learning, while another, with origins in quantitative sociolinguistics, uses statistics extracted from text corpora to measure the time course of change. The two approaches are sometimes seen as opposed to one another but we hope to show how they can be combined to provide more powerful explanations than either approach by itself can give.