Experimental Semiotics: A new approach for studying the emergence and the evolution of human communication
  • ISSN 1572-0373
  • E-ISSN: 1572-0381
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


Computational simulations have provided evidence that the use of linguistic cues as group markers plays an important role in the development of linguistic diversity shortcite (Nettle & Dunbar, 1997; Nettle, 1999). Other simulations, however, have contradicted these findings (Livingstone & Fyfe, 1999; Livingstone, 2002). Similar disagreements exist in sociolinguistics (e.g. Labov, 1963, 2001; Trudgill, 2004, 2008a; Baxter et al., 2009). This paper describes an experimental study in which participants played an anonymous economic game using an instant-messenger-style program and an artificial ‘alien language’. The competitiveness of the game and the frequency with which players interacted were manipulated. Given frequent enough interaction with team-mates, players were able to use linguistic cues to identify themselves. In the most competitive condition, this led to divergence in the language, which did not occur in other conditions. This suggests that both frequency of interaction and a pressure to use language to mark identity play a significant role in encouraging linguistic divergence over short periods, but that neither is suffi cient on its own.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error