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Signaling in an Unknown World

Ventura, Rafael (2021) Signaling in an Unknown World. Erkenntnis. ISSN 0165-0106

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This paper proposes a sender-receiver model to explain two large-scale patterns observed in natural languages: Zipf’s inverse power law relating the frequency of word use and word rank, and the negative correlation between the frequency of word use and rate of lexical change. Computer simulations show that the model recreates Zipf’s inverse power law and the negative correlation between signal frequency and rate of change, provided that agents balance the rates with which they invent new signals and forget old ones. Results are robust across a wide range of parameter values and structural assumptions, such as different forgetting rules and forgetting rates. Analysis of the model further suggests that Zipf’s law relating word frequency and rank arises because of language-external factors and that frequent signals change less because frequent signals are less subject to drift than rare ones. The paper concludes with some brief considerations on model-based and data-driven approaches in philosophy.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Ventura, Rafael
Depositing User: Rafael Ventura
Date Deposited: 12 May 2022 04:02
Last Modified: 12 May 2022 04:02
Item ID: 20581
Journal or Publication Title: Erkenntnis
Publisher: Springer (Springer Science+Business Media B.V.)
Date: 2021
ISSN: 0165-0106

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