Brian MacWhinney
Department of Psychology
Carnegie-Mellon University

CAN WE CAPTURE LINGUISTIC EMERGENCE ON THE WEB?

Emergentist theories of language acquisition and change emphasize the extent to which anguage is shaped by the statistics of the input, the nature of the human brain and body, and the structure of social reality. Psycholinguists have had a lot to say about the input and the brain, but little to say about social communication. However, recent advances in our ability to digitize audio and video recordings linked to transcripts may soon allow us to correct this deficit. Moreover, web distribution of interactions linked to video opens up the possibility of scientifically-based blogging or collaborative commentary. I will outline how these new possibilities are having their impact in the study of code-switching, second language acquisition, first language acquisition, classroom discourse, and the study of legal decision making.