Third of three Baggett Lectures

The Shoemaker Building is 250 yards southwest of Marie Mount Hall, at the western edge of Parking Lot Y.


How does a community create and maintain a language? And how does an individual learn a language? These are both hard problems; but the goal of this lecture will be to persuade you that they are connected in ways that can make them easier to solve together than separately. I’ll discuss two issues in the creation of language sound systems – achieving lexical consensus in social networks, and unsupervised learning of phonological categories – and argue that in both cases, we gain insight into the problems by seeing them as emergent properties of the collective interaction of individual learners.