Just below our awareness, small words like mm, huh? and oh streamline interaction and scaffold complex language. These words, and a few more, are the elementary particles that hold together everyday conversations. Yet we know very little about where they come from, how they get their shape, and how they help us talk and think.

Understanding these highly adaptive communicative tools will shed light on key properties of language and can help us understand why languages are the way they are. We combine computational models and comparative work on conversations across the globe to study how language is shaped by and for social interaction.

Check out our team, or have a look at our papers and public outreach work to learn more.

Opening up ChatGPT (doi, pdf) — In which we carry out the first systematic survey of degrees of openness of ‘open’ alternatives to LLM+RLHF architectures. As featured in IEEE Spectrum, Chip.de, TechXplore & De Volkskrant. Contribute to our crowd-sourced repo!

💡 Beyond Single-Mindedness  (doipdf) — A fundamental fact about human minds is that they are never truly alone. Writing as a transdisciplinary collective assembled from across the cognitive sciences, we highlight the opportunity for a figure-ground reversal that puts interaction at the heart of cognition. Read more on the companion website.

Still fresh: our ACL position paper (doi, pdf), which was singled out and quoted in the plenary session on Next Big Ideas — Dingemanse, M., & Liesenfeld, A. (2022). From text to talk: Harnessing conversational corpora for humane and diversity-aware language technology. Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers), 5614–5633.