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Culture is typically viewed as consisting of traits inherited epigenetically, through social learning. However, cultural diversity has species-typical constraints, presumably of genetic origin. A celebrated, if contentious, example is whether a universal grammar constrains syntactic diversity in human languages. Oscine songbirds exhibit song learning and(More)
Human language, as well as birdsong, relies on the ability to arrange vocal elements in new sequences. However, little is known about the ontogenetic origin of this capacity. Here we track the development of vocal combinatorial capacity in three species of vocal learners, combining an experimental approach in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) with an(More)
Languages tend not to exhibit unpredictable variation. We explore alignment/accommodation during interaction as a mechanism to explain this cross-linguistic tendency. Specifically, we test the hypothesis (derived from historical linguistics) that interactions between categorical and variable users are inherently asymmetric: while variable users (of e.g. a(More)
Languages tend not to exhibit unpredictable variation, and learners receiving variable linguistic input tend to eliminate it, making the language more regular. We explore how this behavior is influenced by social cues, in particular when variability is distributed within and across teachers. We trained participants on an artificial language that contained(More)
What sort of culture would evolve in an island colony of naive founders? This question cannot be studied experimentally in humans. We performed the analogous experiment using socially learned birdsong. Culture is typically viewed as consisting of traits inherited epigenetically, via social learning. However, cultural diversity has species-typical(More)
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