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It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

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Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Academic Paper

Title: The Self-Organization of Combinatoriality and Phonotactics in Vocalization Systems
Paper URL:
Author: Pierre-Yves Oudeyer
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Institution: Sony Computer Science Laboratory, Paris
Linguistic Field: Historical Linguistics; Phonetics; Sociolinguistics
Abstract: This paper shows how a society of agents can self-organize a shared vocalization system that is discrete, combinatorial and has a form of primitive phonotactics, starting from holistic inarticulate vocalizations. The originality of the system is that: (1) it does not include any explicit pressure for communication; (2) agents do not possess capabilities of coordinated interactions- in particular they do not play language games; (3) agents possess no specific linguistic capacities; and (4) initially there exists no convention that agents can use. As a consequence, the system shows how a primitive speech code may bootstrap in the absence of a communication system between agents, i.e. before the appearance of language.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Venue: Connection Science
Publication Info: Oudeyer, P-Y. (2005). The Self-Organization of Combinatoriality and Phonotactics in Vocalization Systems, Connection Science, 17 (3-4), pp. 325--341.
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