Carmen Saldana

Postdoctoral Research Assistant @
Centre for Language Evolution,
The University of Edinburgh,
Room 1.16, Dugald Stewart Building,
3 Charles Street, Edinburgh EH8 9AD

Follow me on Twitter @Hatorada






Research
In my PhD dissertation "Simplifying linguistic complexity: culture and cognition in language evolution" (pre-final copy available here), I investigate how language learning and use impact the complexity of morphological and syntactic systems. I use artificial language learning and iterated learning experimental paradigms to investigate the conditions under which complexity in these domains (morphology and syntax) emerges, spreads, and reduces, providing experimental analogues to processes in natural language change and formation. 

I am currently a Research Assistant on Jennifer Culbertson's ERC project entitled "Syntax Shaped By Cognition: Transforming Theories Of Syntactic Systems Through Laboratory Experiments", where I use artificial language learning experiments to investigate the cognitive constraints underlying the set of potential language universals in syntax and morphology listed in Greenberg (1963).


General research interests
I am primarily interested in understanding how learners'/users' biases impact the way languages are structured. More generally, I am interested in the evolution and development of language within an extended evolutionary model which highlights cultural transmission, the role of input and the interaction between them and cognitive biases. I am also very interested in developing new measures to quantify and define complexity in morphological and syntactic systems.


Teaching
I am a teaching assistant in Linguistics at The University of Edinburgh and  at the University of Stirling. In the last three years I have tutored a wide range of levels and courses: Introduction to Linguistics and English Language (pre-honours), Foundations of Language (pre-honours), Phonetic Analysis and Empirical Methods (pre-honours), Cross-linguistic variation (pre-honours), First Language Acquisition (honours), Second Language Acquisition (honours), Child Bilingualism (honours), Language Pathology (honours), Origins and Evolution of Language (honours and postgraduates).


Research output
Saldana C., Kirby S., Truswell R. and Smith K. (in prep for Journal of Language Evolution) Hierarchical compositional structure is an evolutionary trade-off between learnability and communicative effectiveness

Saldana C.,  Smith K., Kirby S. and Culbertson J. (in prep for Language Learning and Development) Is the strength of regularisation behaviour uniform across linguistic levels? A comparison between morphology and word order.

Saldana C., Kirby, S., Smith K. and Culbertson, J. (2017) Is the strength of regularisation behaviour uniform across linguistic levels? In Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. [pdf]

Saldana C., Kirby S. and Smith K. (2016). The cultural evolution of complexity in linguistic structure. In S.G. Roberts, C. Cuskley, L. McCrohon, L. Barceló-Coblijn, O. Fehér & T. Verhoef (eds.) The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference (EVOLANG11)[pdf]

Saldana, C. (2014) Human Accelerated Regions and the Language Faculty. In E. Cartmill, S.G. Roberts, H. Lyn & H. Cornish (eds.) The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the Evolution of  10th International Conference (EVOLANGX)Singapore: World Scientific.

Saldaña Gascón, C. (2012) Estudio paremiológico intergeneracional. Paremia, 21 (2012), 187-196. Madrid: Centro Virtual Cervantes.


Peer-reviewed conference presentations
Saldana C., Kirby S., Smith K. & Culbertson J. (2017) Is the strength of regularisation behaviour uniform across linguistic levels? The 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. London, UK.

Saldana C., Kirby S., Truswell R. and Smith K. (2016). The evolution of linguistic complexity in the lab. Linguistics and English Language Postgraduate Conference. University of Edinburgh, UK.

Saldana C., Kirby S. and Smith K. (2016). The Cultural Evolution Of Complexity In Linguistic Structure. EVOLANG11. New Orleans, LA (USA).

Saldana, C., Kirby S. and Smith K. (2015) Cultural evolution, compositionality and phrase structure. Protolang 4. Rome Italy.

Saldana, C., Kirby S. and Smith K. (2015) The cultural evolution of complex syntactic structure. International Cognitive Linguistics Conference 13. Northumbria, UK. 

Saldana, C., Kirby S. and Smith K. (2015) The cultural evolution of lexical categories in an Iterated Learning experiment.  Interdisciplinary Advances in Statistical Learning. BCBL, San Sebastian, Spain.

Saldana, C., Kirby S. and Smith K. (2015) The cultural evolution of functional morphology in an Iterated Learning experiment. Workshop on the Causality in the Language Sciences. Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in Science, Leipzig, Germany.

Saldana, C.  (2014) Human Accelerated Regions and the Language faculty. EVOLANG X. Vienna University, Austria.

Saldana, C.  (2014) Cerebellar loops and the Language Faculty. Nijmegen Lectures 2014. Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Saldaña, C. (2012) The acceleration of the genetic clock points to the importance of the cerebrocortico- cerebellar connectivity in the emergence of the language faculty. ICREA International Symposium on Biolinguistics. University of Barcelona, Spain.


Conference reviewing
2013-2018: Reviewer for the Evolution of Language International Conference (EVOLANG).
2014: Reviewer for the International Cognitive Linguistics Conference (ICLC).

Languages
Catalan, Spanish, Italian, English. Basic knowledge of French, Portuguese, German and BSL.

Computing skills
Python (including PsychoPy), R, LaTex. Basic knowledge of JS, HTML, CSS, Stata, Praat, Adobe InDesign, Inkscape