Department Colloquium: Syntactic Planning and Informational Risk

Thursday, 23. May 2024
11:45 - 13:15

G 307

Department of Linguistics

Joel C. Wallenberg (University of York)

This talk picks up on work conducted with colleagues on the project 'Constraints on the Adaptiveness of Information in Language (CAIL)’, which involved using information theory to analyze linguistic optionality and its cognitive scaffolding. Building on seminal work by Fenk and Fenk (1980, see also Fenk-Oczlon, 2001 and many subs), we suggest that linguistic planning is adapted for noise resistance. Specifically, speakers use whatever syntactic means are at their disposal in order to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic communication failure in the presence of noise. Thus, part of what motivates choice between syntactic alternatives is a type of risk mitigation.