Research Topic

Rational Approaches in Language Science

About this Research Topic

The language sciences increasingly have in common their adoption of formal rational contributions to at least partially explain the nature of language and its use. Typically, such explanations identify the goal of a linguistic system and the environment in which it operates, in order to reason about how this goal might be optimally or rationally accomplished. In order to operationalize the notion of rationality, probabilistic approaches (e.g., Bayesian, Information Theoretic, and Game Theoretic frameworks) are often adopted. Such rational accounts are often idealized “computational level” theories, which are intended to inform mechanistic or algorithmic models in which cognitive, communicative, and biological constraints also play an important role.

The goal of this Research Topic is to bring together speech and language research in which the scientific contributions have been crucially informed by such rational explanations. We welcome contributions which reflect the full diversity of disciplines and methodologies – from speech to discourse, on-line processing to corpus-based investigation, through to theoretical accounts and computational models. More specifically, we invite manuscripts that contribute formal (or computational) rational explanations of:

• Language use: behavioural or neurophysiological evidence — whether production or comprehension — for rational processes of speech and language production and perception, as exemplified by expectation-based theories, Bayesian, and noisy-channel models of communication;
• Language development: evidence for rational strategies in the acquisition of all levels of linguistic structure, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics;
• Language change and language evolution: Corpus-based, typological, or simulation-based evidence regarding the emergent structure of human languages;
• Situated language use: the influence of visual context and communicative goals. Examples include evidence for expectation-based mechanisms, pragmatic inference, as well as rational encoding strategies.

Importantly, contributions are also invited which identify bounds or limitations on rational accounts, as well as variation in rational behavior due to factors such as individual, linguistic, or situational/task differences. This Research Topic invites Original Research articles, but is also open to General Commentaries, Opinion, and Review articles that contribute to advancing and broadening the scope of rational approaches in language science.


Keywords: rationality, information theory, bayesian modeling, surprisal theory, entropy, language evolution, psycholinguistics, language change, language production, language development


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The language sciences increasingly have in common their adoption of formal rational contributions to at least partially explain the nature of language and its use. Typically, such explanations identify the goal of a linguistic system and the environment in which it operates, in order to reason about how this goal might be optimally or rationally accomplished. In order to operationalize the notion of rationality, probabilistic approaches (e.g., Bayesian, Information Theoretic, and Game Theoretic frameworks) are often adopted. Such rational accounts are often idealized “computational level” theories, which are intended to inform mechanistic or algorithmic models in which cognitive, communicative, and biological constraints also play an important role.

The goal of this Research Topic is to bring together speech and language research in which the scientific contributions have been crucially informed by such rational explanations. We welcome contributions which reflect the full diversity of disciplines and methodologies – from speech to discourse, on-line processing to corpus-based investigation, through to theoretical accounts and computational models. More specifically, we invite manuscripts that contribute formal (or computational) rational explanations of:

• Language use: behavioural or neurophysiological evidence — whether production or comprehension — for rational processes of speech and language production and perception, as exemplified by expectation-based theories, Bayesian, and noisy-channel models of communication;
• Language development: evidence for rational strategies in the acquisition of all levels of linguistic structure, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics;
• Language change and language evolution: Corpus-based, typological, or simulation-based evidence regarding the emergent structure of human languages;
• Situated language use: the influence of visual context and communicative goals. Examples include evidence for expectation-based mechanisms, pragmatic inference, as well as rational encoding strategies.

Importantly, contributions are also invited which identify bounds or limitations on rational accounts, as well as variation in rational behavior due to factors such as individual, linguistic, or situational/task differences. This Research Topic invites Original Research articles, but is also open to General Commentaries, Opinion, and Review articles that contribute to advancing and broadening the scope of rational approaches in language science.


Keywords: rationality, information theory, bayesian modeling, surprisal theory, entropy, language evolution, psycholinguistics, language change, language production, language development


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 September 2020 Abstract
30 November 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 September 2020 Abstract
30 November 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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