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Abstract: Since language is tied to cognition, we expect the linguistic structures toreflect patterns we encounter in nature and analyzed by physics. Within thisrealm we investigate the process of protolanguage acquisition, using analyticaland tractable methods developed within physics. A protolanguage is a mappingbetween sounds and objects or concepts of the perceived world. This mappingis represented by a matrix and the linguistic interaction among individuals isdescribed by a random matrix model. There are two essential parameters in ourapproach. The strength of the linguistic interaction $\beta$, which followingChomsky-s tradition, we consider as a genetically determined ability, and thenumber $N$ of employed sounds the lexicon size. Our model of linguisticinteraction is analytically studied using methods of statistical physics andsimulated by Monte Carlo techniques. The analysis reveals an intricaterelationship between the innate propensity for language acquisition $\beta$ andthe lexicon size $N$, $N \sim \exp\beta$. Thus a small increase of thegenetically determined $\beta$ may lead to an incredible lexical explosion. Ourapproximate scheme offers an explanation for the biological affinity ofdifferent species and their simultaneous linguistic disparity.

Author: A. Nicolaidis, Kosmas Kosmidis, Panos Argyrakis

Source: https://arxiv.org/


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