In a series of posts, I’ll review the current state of the field of the Evolution of Colour Categories. It has been argued that universals in colour naming across cultures can be traced back to constraints from many domains including genetic, perceptual and environmental. I’ll review these arguments and show that if our perception is affected by our language, then many conflicts can be resolved. Furthermore, it undermines the Universalist assumption that universal patterns in colour terms are evidence for innate constraints.
Part 1: Domains of Constraint
Part 2: Universal patterns are not evidence for innate constraints
Universal Patterns are not Evidence for Innate Constraints
For the full dissertation and for references, go here.
Continue reading “Evolution of Colour Terms: Part 1”
The way children learn language sets the adaptive landscape on which languages evolve. This is acknowledged by many, but there are few connections between models of language acquisition and models of language Evolution (some exceptions include Yang (2002), Yu & Smith (2007) and Chater & Christiansen (2009)).
However, the chasm between the two fields may be getting smaller, as theories are defined as models which are both more interpretable to the more technically-minded Language Evolutionists and extendible into populations and generations.
Also, strangely, models of word learning have been getting simpler over time. This may reflect a move from attributing language acquisition to specific mechanisms towards a more general cognitive explanation. I review some older models here, and a recent publication by Fazly et al.
Continue reading “Language Evolution and Language Acquisition”