James Burridge

University of Portsmouth

Modelling language using statistical physics

Probability Seminar

1st April 2022, 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Fry Building, 2.04

Language change, because it is the result of interactions between many similar agents, can be described using models in the style of statistical physics. In this talk, beginning with bird dialect maps, I will show how spatial linguistic domains can be modelled as magnetic systems with boundaries that feel surface tension. In the case of human language I will present some possible mathematical explanations for spatial patterns and historical changes in England, Italy and the USA. I will also consider what inferences can be drawn about the random copying processes that have generated these. Many linguistic variations involve vowels, and I will finish by discussing the measurement and evolution of these resonant sounds.

Organisers: Benjamin Lees, Jessica Jay

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