Improvisation has taken language a far distance from its origination, with what we make up as we go adjusting the language over time. A delightful discussion on this topic ensues here with both past guest Professor Nick Chater and new guest Professor Morten H. Christiansen, co-authors of The Language Game: How Improvisation Created Language and Changed the World. I was glad to have both on episode 338 of the show for a group discussion on topics from the book.
Morten H. Christiansen is a Danish cognitive scientist known for his work on the evolution of language, and connectionist modeling of human language acquisition. He is Professor in the Department of Psychology and Co-Director of the Cognitive Science Program at Cornell University as well Senior Scientist at the Haskins Labs and Professor in the School of Communication and Culture at Aarhus University.His research has produced evidence for considering language to be a cultural system that is shaped by general-purpose cognitive and learning mechanisms, rather than from innate language-specific mental structures.
Nick Chater is a cognitive psychologist who is Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School and has held chairs in psychology at Warwick and at University College London. He has written over 250 publications, has won four national awards for psychological research, and has served as associate editor for the journals Cognitive Science, Psychological Review, and Psychological Science. His previous trade book, The Mind is Flat, won the Association of American Publishers PROSE Award for Best Book in Clinical Psychology, 2018, and was the topic of our previous discussion.