Document Detail

Selective imitation for a private sign system.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  11894987     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
A distinctive feature of all human languages is the diverse and arbitrary nature of the sign (signifier). This can be interpreted as stating that the mapping between signals and referents is established by convention rather than by functional constraints. This property of the sign provides for a great deal of linguistic flexibility and is a key component of symbolic communication. Game theoretic models to describe signal imitation are investigated with a view to understanding how non-arbitrary (indexical) animal-style signals might 'evolve' culturally into diverse, arbitrary signs. I explore the evolutionary hypothesis that private, arbitrary signs emerge as a result of selective imitation within a socially structured population. Once arbitrary signs have emerged, they contribute towards greater assortative interactions among individuals using a shared sign system. In natural populations, the models for imitation will very often be close kin. Hence, kinship provides one mechanism for the creation of true symbols. An imitation-structured population can support many more sign systems than an equivalent non-structured population and is one in which symbols become the dominant force in assortative interactions.
D C Krakauer
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of theoretical biology     Volume:  213     ISSN:  0022-5193     ISO Abbreviation:  J. Theor. Biol.     Publication Date:  2001 Nov 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2002-03-15     Completed Date:  2002-03-25     Revised Date:  2004-11-17    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0376342     Medline TA:  J Theor Biol     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  145-57     Citation Subset:  IM    
Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, Olden Lane, NJ 08540, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Animal Communication*
Imitative Behavior*
Models, Biological

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