Discrete Dynamics in Nature and Society
Volume 5 (2000), Issue 3, Pages 189-201

Simulated evolution in a linguistic model

Carsten Knudsen1 and Lynne Cameron2

1Department of Physics, Technical University of Denmark, Kongens Lyngby DK-2800, Denmark
2School of Education, University of Leeds, England, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK

Received 15 March 2000

Copyright © 2000 Carsten Knudsen and Lynne Cameron. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In this paper we present a simple evolutionary model of childrens’ language development, whose central nonlinearity is represented by noninvertible discrete dynamical systems. The underlying assumption of the model is that children learn from other children through their interactions. The concrete learning mechanism used is based on imitation, where childrens’ languages evolve through attempting to imitate other childrens' utterances. The use of imitation in evolutionary models has been used, for instance, in evolution of bird song by Kaneko and Suzuki. The model to be presented here is similar to Kaneko and Suzuki’s model, the primary difference being the continuous nature of bird song, in contrast to the discrete nature of childrens’ utterances.