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Languages reflect near-optimal semantic categories

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http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons119

Majid,  Asifa
Language and Cognition Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Regier, T., Kay, P., Kheterpal, N., & Majid, A. (2009). Languages reflect near-optimal semantic categories. Poster presented at the Workshop on Probabilistic Models of Cognitive Development, Banff International Research Station, Canada.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000F-103F-5
Abstract
Semantic categories in the world's languages appear to reflect both universal conceptual tendencies and linguistic convention. We argue that this mixed picture may be accounted for in terms of near-optimal partitions of semantic space - that is, partitions that near-maximize the dispersion of categories. We examine cross-language variation in the naming of categories from two semantic domains - color and space - and show that in both cases this notion of near-optimality accounts for universal tendencies while also accommodating some observed cross-language variation. This is joint work with