Paper: Spontaneous Lexicon Change

ACL ID P98-2203
Title Spontaneous Lexicon Change
Venue Annual Meeting of the Association of Computational Linguistics
Session Main Conference
Year 1998

The paper argues that language change can be explained through the stochasticity observed in real-world natural language use. This the- sis is demonstrated by modeling language use through language games played in an evolv- ing population of agents. We show that the artificial languages which the agents sponta- neously develop based on self-organisation, do not evolve even if the population is changing. Then we introduce stochasticity in language use and show that this leads to a constant innova- tion (new forms and new form-meaning associ- ations) and a maintenance of variation in the population, if the agents are tolerant to varia- tion. Some of these variations overtake existing linguistict conventions, particularly in changing populations, thus explaining lexicon change.