Talk by Michal B. Paradowski

Speaker: Michal B. Paradowski, Assistant Professor

Institute of Applied Linguistics, University of Warsaw

Title: Complexity phenomena in linguistics

Date: 03/11/2016

Time: 3:30pm

Room: Informatics East 122

Abstract: Throughout history language sciences have been dealing with numerous phenomena that are either inherently complex/dynamic systems, or which display characteristic properties of such systems. Within an individual, one can point to perceptual dynamics and categorisation in speech, the emergence of phonological templates, or word and sentence processing; across society, think variations and typology, the rise of new grammatical constructions, semantic bleaching, language evolution in general, and the spread and competition of both individual expressions, and entire languages. A handful of language phenomena will be depicted which have been known to exhibit such properties as hysteresis, phase transition, bifurcation, attractor states, or power law distribution. The multifaceted dynamism and complexity will also be discussed of the process of language acquisition, highlighting the importance of adopting designs with different timescales in order to trace language development as a process of change over time, of the utility of time-series analyses, and of the ability to determine optimal temporal integration windows, e.g. in analyses of dynamic motifs in human communication. The talk will conclude with a presentation of the results of two small-scale projects applying social network analysis (SNA) to language phenomena. One involved exploring the social propagation of neologisms in a microblogging service, the other investigating the impact of peer influence on second-language learning outcomes. Using the methods of complexity science, from local, low-level interactions between individuals verbally communicating with one another we can describe the processes underlying the emergence of more global systemic order and dynamics. Hypotheses will be presented which account for the novel findings.

Bio: Michał B. Paradowski is an assistant professor at the Institute of Applied Linguistics, University of Warsaw, a teacher and translator trainer, and an ELT consultant for television, and currently a visiting scholar at the Department of Second Language Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington. His interests include issues relating to second and third language acquisition research, cross-linguistic influence, bi- and multilingualism, psycholinguistics, embodied cognition, and complexity science. His recent edited volumes are Teaching Languages off the Beaten Track (2014) and Productive Foreign Language Skills for an Intercultural World (2015).