Katie Mudd - Speaker

Yannick Jadoul - Contributor

Connie de Vos - Contributor

Bart de Boer - Contributor

Shared sign languages typically emerge in rural settings with a high incidence of often hereditary deafness and are used by both hearing and deaf community members (de Vos & Pfau, 2015). Thus, they provide the perfect case study to see how a sign language can emerge alongside an existing spoken language (de Vos, Roberts, & Thompson, 2016), providing insights into language emergence and evolution.Though features present in the emergence of shared sign languages differ on many levels (Zeshan & de Vos, 2012), it is unclear which ones allow for language emergence. Proposed influences are a small community size, high incidence of deafness and consanguineous marital patterns. To investigate, we turn to a computational model inspired by a shared sign language called Kata Kolok in Bali to understand what are the key features allowing for shared sign language emergence. The model investigates gene-culture co-evolution by studying the relationship between genetic deafness and language use. Language is modeled by the interaction of agents in a simple communication game occurring in the manual or vocal modality, dependent on whether the agents in the interaction are deaf or hearing. The social structure of the society is used to determine which agents communicate, such that family members and agents in the same clan are more likely to interact. The model itself is closely tied to Kata Kolok and is based on the observations of linguists, geneticists and anthropologists (de Vos, 2012), thus having a high level of ecological validity. As the current model is closely tied to features of a real language, it provides a unique opportunity to understand the precise factors allowing for the maintenance of this sign language, hereby providing a novel tool to investigate how language unfolds and shedding light on the mechanisms at play in gene-culture co-evolution.
22 Oct 201824 Oct 2018

Event (Conference)

TitleCultural Evolution Society conference
Abbrev. TitleCES
Web address (URL)
LocationArizona State University
CountryUnited States
Degree of recognitionInternational event

ID: 44696023