City University of Hong Kong Dep
Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics
Language Contact from a Simulation Perspective
Dr. GONG Tao
Engineering Laboratory (LEL), DSP and Speech Technology Laboratory (DSPSTL),
Department of Electronic Engineering,The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Date: 14 May 2007, Monday
Time: 4:30pm - 6:00pm
Venue: B7603 (Lift 3, 7/F, Blue Zone),Academic Building,CityU
Language contact is a heated topic in historical linguistics, and many empirical studies have reported some common contact patterns such as borrowing and substratum of pidgin and creole languages in the world. Social context and linguistic features play important roles in language contact. In this presentation, I first report a recent empirical study of a creole language, Daohua, which results from the contact of Tibetan and Mandarin in a particular social context and shows a special contact pattern. Apart from empirical studies, I would like to introduce the simulation perspective from computational linguistics to explore the effects of social context and linguistic features on language contact. After a brief introduction of some widely-adopted simulation techniques, I present two simulation studies: the first one discusses the effects of social hierarchy on the maintenance of communal language during intra-community contact, and the second one examines the effects of different linguistic features, such as lexical items and syntax (word order), on the convergence of two communal languages during inter-community contact. These simulation studies have shown that computational simulation is an efficient method to tackle linguistic problems, and it can assist empirical studies to provide more comprehensive understandings about human language and its evolution.
Dr. GONG Tao obtained his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Sept. 2000 and Mar. 2003, respectively, from Dept. of EE, Tianjin University. He began his Ph.D. study in the Language Engineering Laboratory at CityU of HK in March 2003 and transferred to the DSP and Speech Technology Laboratory at Chinese U of HK in Sept. 2004. He has recently passed his Ph.D. oral defense. His research area is the computational simulation on language evolution and complex systems. By viewing language as a Complex Adaptive System and using simulation tools to study linguistic problems, this research can deepen our understanding of human languages, evolutionary computation and other language related studies. His current work is to take a "bottom-up" approach to explore the effects of collective behaviors of individual's cognitive and communicative actions on the evolution of linguistic components such as semantics and syntax. He has had many publications in international journals and conferences, including Language and Linguistics, Complexity, and Brain and Behavioral Sciences. He also gave invited talks at Oxford University and Edinburgh University.