Department of Linguistics
University of Pennsylvania
Functional Pressures on Sound Change
Recent attempts to address the ‘actuation problem’ (Weinrich et al. 1968) have focused on functional factors that might explain attested sound changes. While traditional views on sound change focus on perception errors (Ohala 1983), modern statistical approaches have suggested that sound change can be explained looking at communication efficiency (e.g. Cohen Priva 2017). In this presentation, I model simulations of sound change and use historical and contemporary data to test the predictions made by neutral and functional models of sound change. Two specific topics will be investigated: the relation between communication efficiency and phonetic dispersion in the lexicon (Dautriche et al. 2017) and the Functional Load Hypothesis (Wedel et al. 2013).
The ILST Seminar in Language and Communication Sciences is a weekly interdisciplinary research seminar that brings together faculty, graduate students and postdocs who share an interest in the scientific study of language and communication. Each week, a visitor or member of this group presents their research findings, plans or ideas, and the group provides discussion and feedback. This slot can also be used for practice talks, such as practice job talks or practice conference talks. If you wish to attend this weekly seminar and want to be added to our email list, or if you would like to take an available presentation slot, please contact Professor John Trueswell (email@example.com).