I am currently 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 explore how learning, expressive pressures on language use, and social complexity drive the evolution of linguistic complexity. I am also a collaborator on Jennifer Culbertson's ERC project entitled "Syntax Shaped By Cognition: Transforming Theories Of Syntactic Systems Through Laboratory Experiments", where we 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).
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 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).
Saldana C., Kirby S., Truswell R. and Smith K. (submitted to Journal of Language Evolution) Compositional hierarchical structure evolves through cultural transmission: an experimental study.
Saldana C., Smith K., Kirby S. and Culbertson J. (under review in 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.
Saldana, C., Simon, K., Truswell, R., & Smith, K. (2018, September 27). Compositional hierarchical structure evolves through cultural transmission: an experimental study. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/cuf3k
Saldana, C., Smith, K., Simon, K., & Culbertson, J. (2018, September 27). Is regularisation uniform across linguistic levels? Comparing learning and production of unconditioned probabilistic variation in morphology and word order. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/zk59y
Saldana, C. and 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/
Peer-reviewed conference presentations
Saldana, C. (Sept 2018) Do cross-linguistic patterns of morpheme order reflect a cognitive bias? Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing (AMLAP 2018). Berlin, Germany.
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.
Further academic service
2013-2018: Reviewer for the Evolution of Language International Conference (EVOLANG).
2014: Reviewer for the International Cognitive Linguistics Conference (ICLC).
Catalan, Spanish, Italian, English. Basic knowledge of French, Portuguese, German and BSL.
Python (including PsychoPy), R, LaTex, JS, HTML, CSS, PHP, Stata, Praat, Adobe InDesign, Inkscape