Peter Milin at LEL seminar

Posted on May 15, 2023 by

The final LEL seminar this semester will feature Peter Milin (Birmingham), who will speak on “Computational models of language learning  at the intersection of linguistics and psychology”. The talk will be on Tuesday, 16th May at 4.10pm, in Simon Building 2.61 or online on zoom. The in-person attendees will be rewarded with a wine reception afterwards.

Computational models of language learning 

at the intersection of linguistics and psychology 

Petar Milin 

University of Birmingham 

The central premise of usage-based linguistics is that natural languages are dynamic systems, emerging from usage supported by general cognitive functions. However, no cognitive process has been proposed and studied as the actual mechanism of emergence: language becomes an object of research scrutiny once emergence is completed. Even the acquisition of a language abstraction is probed in terms of being present/absent, rather than in terms of the actual process of development. In my talk, I will present the work I am doing with the Out Of Our Minds team [] focusing on emergence as a function of learning. I will show how using computational techniques that implement principles of learning allows us to study what kinds of patterns might be picked up if usage is learned from exposure to ambient language alone. I will argue that learning helps linguists engage with what is “emergeable”, while emerged abstraction help psychologists engage with what needs to be learned. The hypothesised processes and system’s components become productively interlocked between complementary theories and methodologies, which helps the two disciplines keep each other in check while achieving joint goals. This may ultimately change the way in which we think about the new interdisciplinary programme of language sciences.