Seán G. Roberts's research while affiliated with Cardiff University and other places

Publications (23)

Article
Previous research on linguistic relativity and economic decisions hypothesized that speakers of languages with obligatory tense marking of future time reference (FTR) should value future rewards less than speakers of languages which permit present tense FTR. This was hypothesized on the basis of obligatory linguistic marking (e.g., will) causing sp...
Article
Full-text available
Cross-signing—the emergence of an interlanguage between users of different sign languages—offers a rare chance to examine the evolution of a natural communication system in real time. To provide an insight into this process, we analyse an annotated video corpus of 340 minutes of interaction between signers of different language backgrounds on their...
Preprint
Speaking a language that obliges the future tense for linguistic Future Time Reference (FTR) has been hypothesised to cause speakers to perceive delayed outcomes as temporally distal and therefore less valuable (“temporal discounting”). Conversely, we hypothesise that the obligation to use low-certainty modal verbs, e.g. may, causes speakers to con...
Article
This paper investigates whether a consideration of linguistic history is important when studying the relationship between economic and linguistic behaviors. Several recent economic studies have suggested that differences between languages can affect the way people think and behave (linguistic relativity or Sapir–Whorf hypothesis). For example, the...
Article
Full-text available
Iconicity, the resemblance between the form of a word and its meaning, has effects on behaviour in both communicative symbol development and language learning experiments. These results have invited speculation about iconicity being a key feature of the origins of language, yet, the presence of iconicity in natural languages seems limited. In a dia...
Article
Full-text available
If the structure of language vocabularies mirrors the structure of natural divisions that are universally perceived, then the meanings of words in different languages should closely align. By contrast, if shared word meanings are a product of shared culture, history and geography, they may differ between languages in substantial but predictable way...
Preprint
Recently, economists have used notions of linguistic relativity to suggest that grammatical constraints on Future Time Reference (FTR) affect whether people choose to take a small reward now or wait until later for a larger reward ("temporal discounting"). Economists hypothesize that habitual use of present tense constructions for FTR may cause spe...
Preprint
Context-based cultural transmission biases such as prestige are thought to have been a primary driver in shaping the dynamics of human cultural evolution. However, few empirical studies have measured the importance of prestige relative to other effects, such as the content biases present within transmitted information. Here, we report the findings...
Article
Full-text available
Language is one of the most complex of human traits. There are many hypotheses about how it originated, what factors shaped its diversity, and what ongoing processes drive how it changes. We present the Causal Hypotheses in Evolutionary Linguistics Database (CHIELD, https://chield.excd.org/), a tool for expressing, exploring, and evaluating hypothe...
Article
Full-text available
Face-to-face communication is multimodal at its core: it consists of a combination of vocal and visual signalling. However, current evidence suggests that, in the absence of an established communication system, visual signalling, especially in the form of visible gesture, is a more powerful form of communication than vocalization and therefore like...
Article
A previous study of reviewing at the Evolution of Language conferences found effects that suggested that gender bias against female authors was alleviated under double-blind review at EvoLang 11. We update this analysis in two specific ways. First, we add data from the most recent EvoLang 12 conference, providing a comprehensive picture of the conf...
Data
Guessing accuracy for each language. This includes which languages are most often and least often confused for each language. (ZIP)
Data
Neighbor-Nets for each continent. (PDF)
Data
Distance matrices and an R script for calculating the correlation between different measures (Mantel tests). (ZIP)
Data
Audio diversity and quality measures for each speech sample. (ZIP)
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Language data. This includes data on population sizes, country-level data, language name frequency, mean acoustic diversity, and language codes. (ZIP)
Data
Raw results from the Great Language Game. This large file is available through FigShare: http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.3512090. (ZIP)
Data
Confusion probabilities. The probability of confusion each language for every other language. Row names are identical to column names. To find the probability of confusing language A for language B, look up row A, column B. (ZIP)
Data
A list of which ASJP doculects were used to represent the lexicon of the languages in the analyses. (ZIP)

Citations

... Language is entwined with, and transmitted alongside, other aspects of culture, including norms, institutions, religious practices, etc. (e.g., [188]), which means distinguishing the effect of language from the rest of culture is challenging (Box 5). Finally, the correlational evidence underspecifies the actual mechanisms linking linguistic structures with human behavior, and experimental evidence currently suggests a more complex picture (e.g., [189]). ...
... Because of their biased time perception and greater timing uncertainty about future losses, speakers of weak FTR languages are less likely to discount the negative future consequences of their impairment decisions (i.e., because the psychological distance between the present and the future is so close). 8 Gotti et al. (2021) extended Kim et al.'s (2017) analysis by using a new dataset from a wide range of countries (with controls for linguistic history). They examined the relationship between FTR and accrual-based earnings management. ...
... Effective communication and diffusion strategies are needed to raise awareness and commitment to achieving environmental sustainability [34,14]. Thus, finding effective means to engage human behavior change for conservation issues is one of the top priorities for modern conservation science [32,5]. One important mechanism by which scientific information spreads across the science-policy interface is through media coverage [24]. ...
... Recent corpus-linguistic studies explored phonological systematicity of existing vocabularies, indicating non-arbitrary soundmeaning relations to permeate the lexicon for shape (Sidhu, Westbury, Hollis, & Pexman, 2021, demonstrating the kiki-bouba effect in English words), size (Winter & Perlman, 2021), color (Johansson, Anikin, & Aseyev, 2020), spatial relations (Johansson & Zlatev, 2013), or grammar (Kelly, 1992;Pimentel, McCarthy, Blasi, Roark, & Cotterell, 2019;Shih, 2020). All in all, research on phonological iconicity has involved various meaning dimensions (see Dingemanse et al., 2020;Schmidtke, Conrad, & Jacobs, 2014, for reviews) and recent studies emphasized its importance in language acquisition (e.g., Kantartzis, Imai, Evans, & Kita, 2019;Nielsen & Dingemanse, 2020) and diachronic language change (Dellert, Erben Johansson, Frid, & Carling, 2021;Monaghan & Roberts, 2021;Vinson et al., 2021). ...
... How much of the perceptual world of that species can you recover based on text alone? Versions of this question have occupied philosophers for centuries (Hume, 1740;Locke, 1847), and recent psychological research on visual knowledge in congenitally blind individuals (Kim, Elli, & Bedny, 2019;Kim, Aheimer, Montané Manrara, & Bedny, 2021;Mamus, Speed, Rissman, Majid, &Özyürek, 2023) and on cross-modal and cross-system alignment between semantic representations (Aho, Roads, & Love, 2023;Marjieh, van Rijn, et al., 2022;Goldstone & Rogosky, 2002) provide glimpses into the rich perceptual content of language and its influence on perception (see also, Lupyan, Rahman, Boroditsky, and Clark (2020); Thompson, Roberts, and Lupyan (2020)). ...
... In the present experiment, prestige was manipulated as a content bias and we found an advantage of high prestige social rank cues over medium social rank cues. This suggests that, even though prestige cues are memorable compared to lower-prestige cues as we have shown here, the content of the information itself might be a more important factor on the cumulative recall of information than the prestige of the source of information (see also Berl et al. 2020). ...
... These structures vary across languages [4] and have been shown to affect how we mentally represent these different aspects of our environment [5][6][7][8]. Prior research on the effect of future time reference on temporal discounting [9][10][11] has established that languages that obligatorily mark the future grammatically show stronger future discounting effects, although the design of these studies remains disputed [12,13]. In the present study, we examine the impact of the grammaticalization of the future, that is, the grammatical manifestations of how to refer to the future, and how these grammaticalizations may impact our representations of future events. ...
... For example, using quantitative methods in themselves does not automatically address the problem that multiple explanations and hypotheses might be compatible with the observed historical data (Jenset and McGillivray, 2017, p. 47). Roberts et al. (2020) present an interesting supporting tool to deal with this problem, which we find interesting and encouraging, but insufficient on its own to address this problem. Instead, we will probably need an even closer alignment of theory, hypotheses, data, and methods. ...
... It is not until much more recently that it has been taken seriously by a more general audience within either gesture studies orlinguistics. 2 There is, at this point, substantial experimental work demonstrating the increased efficiency of multimodal communication. For example, gesture has been shown to increase spoken fluency when providing spatial information (e.g.Rauscher et al. 1996), increase learning outcomes in child-directed and secondlanguage education (e.g.Church et al. 2004;Goldin-Meadow 2017;Singer & Goldin-Meadow 2005), decrease processing time and surprisal (e.g.Drijvers & Holler 2022;Holler et al. 2018;Holler & Levinson 2019), and aid in completing novel tasks (e.g.Macuch Silva et al. 2020). ...