My research concerns the cognitive foundations and implications of meaning, approached from a computational perspective. I seek to understand how word meanings are structured and creatively extended, such that an infinite range of emerging ideas may be conceived of by minds with bounded cognitive resources, and expressed using finite lexicons in the world's languages.
My approach is to combine computational modeling with rich empirical data to explore why and how word meanings vary in the ways they do, both over time and across languages, in terms of general principles that underlie this variation. I am also interested in computational approaches to linguistic relativity, or the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. In this line of work, I pursue the idea that linguistic meanings may serve as a strategic cue to reduce uncertainty in cognition.
Current research includes computational approaches to:
- Emergence of word meanings
- Semantic universals and variation
- The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis