I am currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Comparative Linguistics at the University of Zurich, where I teach and research the cognitive constraints that shape language structure using a variety of corpus and experimental methods. In particular, I investigate the impact of individual learning biases on cross-linguistic regularities in morphological paradigms and morpheme order.
I was previously a postdoctoral Research Assistant at the Centre for Language Evolution in Edinburgh on Kenny Smith's ERC project entitled "The Evolution of Linguistic Complexity", where we explored how pressures imposed on the user during learning and communication drive the evolution of linguistic complexity. To further explore the nature of these pressures in language evolution, we collaborated with the Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive (Aix‐Marseille Université) to investigate the mechanisms driving cumulative cultural evolution as well as regularity extraction across human and non-human primates. I was also a collaborator in Jennifer Culbertson's ERC project "Syntax Shaped By Cognition", where we used artificial language learning experiments to investigate the cognitive constraints underlying typological universals in morpheme order.
In my PhD dissertation "Simplifying linguistic complexity: culture and cognition in language evolution" (copy available here), I investigated 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.
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 morphosyntactic systems.
I have taught a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses at the University of Edinburgh (2014-2018) and the University of Zurich (2019-present): Morphology (UZH), Conditions of Language Dynamics (UZH), Introduction to Linguistics and English Language (UoE), Foundations of Language (UoE), Phonetic Analysis and Empirical Methods (UoE), Cross-linguistic variation (UoE), First Language Acquisition (UoE), Second Language Acquisition (UoE), Child Bilingualism (UoE), and Origins and Evolution of Language (UoE).
- Maldonado, M., Saldana, C. and Culbertson, J. (forthcoming) Learning biases in the relative order of person and number markers. Forthcoming in Proceedings of the 50th Annual Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society (NELS 50). [pdf]
- Saldana, C., Claidière, N., Fagot, J. & Smith, K. (2020). Rational After All: Changes in Probability Matching Behaviour Across Time in Humans and Monkeys. In S. Denison., M. Mack, Y. Xu, & B.C. Armstrong (Eds.), Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Cognitive Science Society. [OSF project] [pdf]
- Saldana, C., Smith, K., Kirby, S., Fagot, J. & Claidière, N. (2019) Cumulative cultural evolution in a non-copying task in children and Guinea baboons. Proceedings of the 41st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. [OSF project] [pdf]
- Saldana, C., Oseki, Y. & Culbertson, J. (2019) Do cross-linguistic patterns of morpheme order reflect a cognitive bias? Proceedings of the 41st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. [OSF project] [pdf]
- Saldana C., Fagot, J., Kirby S., Smith K. and Claidière, N. (2019) High-fidelity copying is not necessarily the key to cumulative cultural evolution: a study with monkeys and children. Proceedings of the Royal Society B [article] [pdf] [data] [OSF project]
- Saldana, C., Kirby S., Truswell R. and Smith K. (2019) Compositional hierarchical structure evolves through cultural transmission: an experimental study. Journal of Language Evolution. doi: 10.1093/jole/lzz002 [article] [data] [OSF project]
- Saldana, C., Kirby, S., Smith K. and Culbertson, J. (2017) Is the strength of regularisation behaviour uniform across linguistic levels? In G. Gunzelmann, A. Howes, T. Tenbrink & E. Davelaar (Eds.) Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. [pdf]
- Saldaña Gascón, C. (2012) Estudio paremiológico intergeneracional. Paremia, 21 (2012), 187-196. Madrid: Centro Virtual Cervantes.
- Saldana, C., Claidière, N., Fagot, J. & Smith, K. (2020). Rational After All: Changes in Probability Matching Behaviour Across Time in Humans and Monkeys. In Ravignani, A., Barbieri, C., Martins, M., Flaherty, M., Jadoul, Y., Lattenkamp, E., Little, H., Mudd, K. & Verhoef, T. (Eds.): The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference (EvoLang13). [OSF project] [pdf]
- Saldana, C. , Loy, J. & Smith, K. (2019) Illusory correlations and the acquisition of probabilistic linguis-tic variation. Interdisciplinary Advances in Statistical Learning 2019. [OSF project] [abstract] [poster]
- 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.
- Saldana, C., Oseki, Y. & Culbertson, J. (under review) Cross-linguistic patterns of morpheme order reflect cognitive biases: An experimental study of case and number morphology. [OSF project]
- Saldana, C., Smith K., Kirby S. and Culbertson J. (under review) Is the strength of regularisation behaviour uniform across linguistic levels? A comparison between morphology and word order. [OSF project]
- Mansfield, J., Bickel, B., Saldana, C., Stoll, S. & Perfors, A. (2020, February 24). Category clustering and learnability. AsPredicted #36149
- Maldonado M., Saldana, C. & Culbertson, J. (2019, March 07). Cognitive biases in Person-Number morpheme ordering. Open Science Framework. Retrived from osf.io/kqvwd
- Saldana, C., Smith, K., Claidière, N., & Fagot, J. (2019, March 13). Probability matching in human and non-human primates. Open Science Framework. Retrieved from osf.io/evxk4
- Saldana, C., Loy, J. E., & Smith, K. (2018, November 19). Variant cue frequency: Do asymmetries in cue frequency predict the conditioning of probabilistic variation? [pre-registration] Open Science Framework. Retrieved from osf.io/4gukb
- Saldana, C. & Culbertson, J. (2018, April 12) SYNCOG39: Do cross-linguistic patterns of morpheme order reflect a cognitive bias? [pre-registration] Open Science Framework. Retrieved from osf.io/8xuc9/ and osf.io/akcyp/