Emergentist Approaches to Language

Michael Barlow barlow at RUF.RICE.EDU
Sat Nov 30 18:25:46 UTC 1996

From: Brian MacWhinney <brian at cyrus.andrew.cmu.edu>

28th Annual Carnegie Mellon Symposium on Cognition--
Initial Announcement

Topic:     Emergentist Approaches to Language

Dates:      May 28-June 1, 1997

Location:   Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh

Emergentist accounts have been formulated for a wide variety of linguistic
phenomena, ranging from segmental inventories, stress patterns,
phonotactic constraints, morphophonological alternations, lexical structures,
pidginization, second language learning, historical change, on-line phrase
attachment, and rhetorical structures. Formalisms that have been used to
analyze the emergent nature of these forms include connectionist networks,
dynamic systems theory, neuronal competition models, classifier systems,
production-system architectures, Bayesian models, Optimality Theory,
principles-and-parameters theory, corpora studies, and hermeneutic
analysis. It is remarkable that approaches as apparently divergent as
functionalist linguistics and principles-and-parameters theory seem to
nonetheless share some common ground in terms of a mutual interest in
emergentist accounts of both learning and processing.

The specific aim of this symposium is to advance our understanding of these
pivotal issues by bringing together researchers from these various
perspectives to share their findings, ideas, aspirations, and concerns. In
particular, the symposium is designed to:

1. draw attention to the notion of "emergence" as a theme underlying some
of the most exciting new work in linguistics and psycholinguistics,

2. explore more fully the ways in which emergentist views provide truly
new answers to old questions, as opposed to repackagings of old answers,

3. consider ways in which isolated emergentist accounts can be linked into a
larger emergentist conceptual framework, and

4. examine ways in which an emergentist framework may serve to
overcome or neutralize certain unresolved issues remaining from earlier
periods in the development of linguistic and psycholinguistic theory.

Invited Speakers:

Richard Aslin, Jenny Saffran, and Elissa Newport - University of Rochester

Elizabeth Bates - University of California, San Diego

Jeffrey Elman - University of California, San Diego

Gary Dell and Prahlad Gupta - University of Illinois

Adele Goldberg - UCSD

Maryellen MacDonald and Mark Seidenberg - University of Southern California

Brian MacWhinney - CMU

Jay McClelland - CMU

David Plaut - CMU

Linda Smith - Indiana University

Catherine Snow - Harvard University

Joseph Stemberger - University of Minnesota

The symposium will begin at 9:00 on Thursday May 28, 1997 and will
conclude on Sunday June 1, 1997.  Depending on interest, there may be one or two
sessions devoted to additional shorter papers.  People from outside Pittsburgh
who are interested in attending should send email to kelley.sacco at cmu.edu for
additional information.

--Brian MacWhinney
Department of Psychology
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
(412) 268-3793
brian.macwhinney at cmu.edu

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