Cumulative cultural evolution in the laboratory: an experimental approach to the origins of structure in human language.

@article{Kirby2008CumulativeCE,
  title={Cumulative cultural evolution in the laboratory: an experimental approach to the origins of structure in human language.},
  author={Simon Kirby and Hannah Cornish and Kenny Smith},
  journal={Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America},
  year={2008},
  volume={105 31},
  pages={10681-6}
}
We introduce an experimental paradigm for studying the cumulative cultural evolution of language. In doing so we provide the first experimental validation for the idea that cultural transmission can lead to the appearance of design without a designer. Our experiments involve the iterated learning of artificial languages by human participants. We show that languages transmitted culturally evolve in such a way as to maximize their own transmissibility: over time, the languages in our experiments… CONTINUE READING
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