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Auteur: Angels MASSIP BONET

Co-Auteur(s): Albert BASTARDAS BOADA, University of Barcelona, Department of Linguistics.

Language and other Complex Social Adaptive Systems

Abstract/Résumé: Language and Other Complex Social Adaptive Systems Àngels Massip / Albert Bastardas First, we ought to make clear that our concept of complexity here refers more to the epistemological framework of Complex Systems, as used throughout most of the sciences, rather than to any degree of complexity found in languages. The growth in lines that may be called complex has received a huge boost from the spirited addition of scientists in the fields of physics, mathematics and computing, who are contributing in the search for new models and conceptual tools to advance our understanding of physical, chemical and biological systems. At the same time, however, these advances reveal shortcomings in our understanding of phenomena that are more strictly social and human in nature. Behind most uses of the term complexity, we find a strong interest in lines of thought aimed at deepening our understanding of phenomena that involve several agents held in networks of mutual inter-retro-actions within given contexts. Through their coevolution, these agents spark the emergence of new realities, with properties and characteristics that are different from their original components. Dynamic networks of processes interweaving their component parts and their emergent totalities force us to change concepts, imagery and strategies, producing a shift that poses a serious challenge for contemporary thought. Language, regarded as a CAS (Complex Adaptive System) of dynamic use and acquired experience, has the following key features: a. The system consists of multiple agents (speakers in a speaking community) who interact among themselves. b. The system is adaptive, the behaviour of the speakers is based on past interactions, and past and present interactions together feed into future behaviour. c. The behaviour of a speaker is the consequence of competing factors, ranging from the mechanics of human perception to social motivations. d. Language structures emerge from interrelated models of experience, social interaction and cognitive processes. The CAS approach, which could be applied to every field of linguistics, uncovers aspects shared across many areas of linguistics research, from cognitive linguistics, sociolinguistics, first and second-language acquisition, psycholinguistics, historical linguistics or evolutionary linguistics to neurolinguistics. Our work aims to contribute to the overall, integrated understanding of the language phenomenon, especially from the epistemological perspective, while focusing on the fact that language is at the same time individual (and psycho-cognitive), social and political.