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.

💡 New! Our ACL 2022 paper:
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. Dublin: Association for Computational Linguistics. preprint doi: 10.31219/osf.io/m43zh

© James Yang for our 2014 piece in Scientific American