July 25, 2014

9:18 PM | How Can You Recognize Language?
Coach signals a play. Is that language or something else? This is a blog about the origins of speech, but what began? How can we tell it when we see it? Parents usually say their children have started talking when...

July 24, 2014

7:08 AM | Beyond Quantification: Digital Criticism and the Search for Patterns
I’ve collected some recent posts (from New Savanna) on patterns into a working paper. It’s online at SSRN. Here’s the abstract and the introduction. Abstract: Literary critics seek patterns, whether patterns in individual texts or patterns in large collections of texts. Valid patterns are taken as indices of causal mechanisms of one sort or another. […]

July 18, 2014

4:47 PM | Talk to the Animals: BBC series on Animal Communication
The BBC have got a new series on animal communication, so far they’ve covered mongooses, hippopotamuses, vervet monkeys, chimpanzees, dolphins and other animals but I haven’t actually watched it yet. Someone’s uploaded the first episode to youtube here: But of course you can watch it on iPlayer too if you’re in the UK.

July 17, 2014

11:57 AM | Systematic reviews 101: Internal and External Validity
Who remembers last summer when I started writing a series of posts on systematic literature reviews? I apologise for neglecting it for so long, but here is a quick write up on assessing the studies you are including in your review for internal and external validity, with special reference to experiments in artificial language learning […]

July 14, 2014

1:46 PM | Blogger Interviewed
The Grammarist is an entertaining blog on all things language-related. I have enjoyed their posts on word usage and spelling. Spelling! Can you believe that. It has always been my weakest suit, but they cover it well. They surprised me...

July 09, 2014

8:14 PM | Forget Communication; Study Cognition
Leonard Talmy is an interesting fellow who has spent the past several decades exploring the way languages express thoughts. Can we have thoughts that we cannot express verbally? Many poets spend their lives trying to express the inexpressible. We know...
10:26 AM | Developing Good Replication Practices
In my last post, I described a (mostly) successful replication by Steegen et al. of the ”crowd-within effect.” The authors of that replication effort felt that it would be nice to mention all the good replication research practices that they had implemented in their replication effort.And indeed, positive psychologist that I am, I would be remiss if I didn’t extol the virtues of the approach in that exemplary replication paper, so here goes.Make sure you have sufficient […]

July 07, 2014

8:07 AM | PhD Opportunities: The Wellsprings of Linguistic Diversity
PhD positions are available at ANU, working with a team of people investigating diversity and cultural evolution.  The call is below: Applications are now being sought for three PhD positions on the project ‘The Wellsprings of Linguistics Diversity’, funded by the Australian Research Council for the period mid-2014 to mid-2019. Each PhD position will undertake […]

July 03, 2014

7:06 PM | Is There Really a Crowd Within?
In 1907 Francis Galton (two years prior to becoming “Sir”) published a paperin Nature titled “Vox populi” (voice of the people). With the rise of democracy in the (Western) world, he wondered how much trust people could put in public judgments. How wise is the crowd, in other words?As luck would have it, a weight-judging competition was carried on at the annual show of the West of England Fat Stock and Poultry Exhibition (sounds like a great name for a band) in […]
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