Edited by Katrien Beuls and Remi van Trijp
[Belgian Journal of Linguistics 30] 2016
► pp. 147–169
A boy named Sue
The semiotic dynamics of naming and identity
One major lesson learned in the cognitive sciences is that even basic human cognitive capacities are extraordinarily complicated and elusive to mechanistic explanations. This is definitely the case for naming and identity. Nothing seems simpler than using a proper name to refer to a unique individual object in the world. But psychological research has shown that the criteria and mechanisms by which humans establish and use names are unclear and seemingly contradictory. Children only develop the necessary knowledge and skills after years of development and naming degenerates in unusual selective ways with strokes, schizophrenia, or Alzheimer disease. Here we present an operational model of social interaction patterns and cognitive functions to explain how naming can be achieved and acquired. We study the Grounded Naming Game as a particular example of a symbolic interaction that requires naming and present mechanisms that build up and use the semiotic networks necessary for performance in the game. We demonstrate in experiments with autonomous physical robots that the proposed dynamical systems indeed lead to the formation of an effective naming system and that the model hence explains how naming and identity can get socially constructed and shared by a population of embodied agents.
[ p. 165 ]References
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