Lexical Innovation, Word Games, and the Internet

October 9, 2022 - 14:00 to 15:00

Oxford e-Research Centre, 7 Keble Road, Oxford

  • Seminar
  • Open to all

Educated adults know some 100,000 distinct words, and they encounter and create new words all the time. Rare and novel words are challenge for speech and language technology, because they do not occur often enough to build statistical models of their behaviour. For the language sciences, novel words provide an important window into the cognitive and social processes that shape language.

This talk will review some recent work about the creation and adoption of words. First, I will present a mathematical analysis of the dynamics of words in USENET discussion groups. Archives of USENET groups provide examples of word dynamics in large communities (10,000 to 100,000 individuals) over more than 10 years. I will then present results from the Wordovators project. The Wordovators project is developing on-line word games in order to collect data about artificial language learning from a large and diverse pool of people. Taken together, the results indicate that individual differences amongst speakers in a linguistic community, and social aspects of linguistic interaction, play a major role in determining the dynamics of language.

Janet is a Fellow of the American Academy, LSA & Cognitive Science Society; and a Professor of Language Modeling

Find out more about Janet here