The Recruitment Theory of Language Origins

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

21 Citations (Scopus)


The recruitment theory of language origins argues that lan- guage users recruit and try out different strategies for solving the task of communication and retain those that maximise communicative success and cognitive economy. Each strategy requires specific cognitive neural mechanisms, which in themselves serve a wide range of purposes and therefore may have evolved or could be learned independently of lan- guage. The application of a strategy has an impact on the properties of the emergent language and this fixates the use of the strategy in the pop- ulation. Although neurological evidence can be used to show that certain cognitive neural mechanisms are common to linguistic and non-linguistic tasks, this only shows that recruitment has happened, not why. To show the latter, we need models demonstrating that the recruitment of a par- ticular strategy and hence the mechanisms to carry out this strategy lead to a better communication system. This paper gives concrete examples how such models can be built and shows the kinds of results that can be expected from them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmergence of Language and Communication
EditorsC. Lyon, C.l. Nehaniv, A. Cangelosi
Number of pages23
ISBN (Print)978-1-84628-491-5
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Publication series

NameEmergence of Language and Communication

Bibliographical note

C. Lyon, C.L. Nehaniv, A. Cangelosi


  • Language origins
  • language evolution
  • language games
  • recruitment theory


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