The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Symbol Grounding and the Origin of Language: From Show to Tell

Blondin-Massé, Alexandre, Harnad, Stevan and St-Louis, Bernard (2013) Symbol Grounding and the Origin of Language: From Show to Tell In, Lefebvre, Claire, Cohen, Henri and Comrie, Bernard (eds.) New Perspectives on the Origins of Language. Benjamin

Record type: Book Section

Abstract

Organisms’ adaptive success depends on being able to do the right thing with the right kind of thing. This is categorization. Most species can learn categories (1) by direct experience (“induction”). Only human beings can learn categories (2) by word of mouth (“instruction”). Artificial-life simulations have shown the evolutionary advantage of instruction over induction and human electrophysiology experiments have shown that these two radically different ways of acquiring categories still share some common features in our brains today. Graph-theoretic analyses reveal that dictionaries consist of a core of more concrete words that are learned earlier, by direct experience (induction); the meanings of the rest of the dictionary can be learned by definition (instruction) alone, by combining the inductively grounded core words into subject/predicate propositions with truth values. We conjecture that language began when attempts to communicate through miming became conventionalized into arbitrary sequences of shared, increasingly arbitrary category names that made it possible for members of our species to transmit new categories to one another by defining and describing them via propositions (instruction).

PDF Harnad-Lefebvre-bookFIN-REV.pdf - Other
Available under License Other.
Download (476kB)

More information

Published date: 2013
Keywords: language, evolution, Darwin, categorization, propositions, dictionaries, symbol grounding, category learning, induction, instruction, definition, description, predication
Organisations: Electronics & Computer Science

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 271438
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/271438
PURE UUID: 2109c68f-4f0b-43a3-8d70-a205fb623268

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 22 Jul 2010 21:09
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 06:42

Export record

Contributors

Author: Alexandre Blondin-Massé
Author: Stevan Harnad
Author: Bernard St-Louis
Editor: Claire Lefebvre
Editor: Henri Cohen
Editor: Bernard Comrie

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×