Hi. I'm a Reader in the Centre for Language Evolution at the University of Edinburgh.

My research focuses on understanding how languages are shaped by learning and use. I am interested in how typological universals (differences in the frequency of linguistic patterns across the world's languages) arise from properties of our cognitive system. To get at this, I teach people (children and adults) miniature artificial languages, and create computational models of their behaviour.

Publications

2019

Martin, Alexander, Klaus Abels, Theeraporn Ratitamkul, and Jennifer Culbertson. to appear. “Cross-Linguistic Evidence for Cognitive Universals in the Noun Phrase.” Linguistics Vanguard. [preprint]

Culbertson, Jennifer, Hanna Jarvinen, Frances Haggarty, and Kenny Smith. to appear. “Children’s Sensitivity to Phonological and Semantic Cues During Noun Class Learning: Evidence for a Phonological Bias.” Language. [preprint]

Culbertson, Jennifer. to appear. “Artificial Language Learning.” In Oxford Handbook of Experimental Syntax, edited by Jon Sprouse. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Culbertson, Jennifer, and Kathryn Schuler. 2019. “Artificial Language Learning in Children.” Annual Review of Linguistics 5: 353–73. doi:10.1146/annurev-linguistics-011718-012329. [link to free e-print]

2018

Kirby, Simon, Jennifer Culbertson, and Marieke Schouwstra. 2018. “The Origins of Word Order Universals: Evidence from Corpus Statistics and Silent Gesture.” In The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 12th International Conference (Evolangxii), edited by C. Cuskley, M. Flaherty, H. Little, Luke McCrohon, A. Ravignani, and T. Verhoef. NCU Press. [pdf]

Smith, Kenny, and Jennifer Culbertson. 2018. “Does Learning Favour Communicative Efficiency?” In The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 12th International Conference (Evolangxii), edited by C. Cuskley, M. Flaherty, H. Little, Luke McCrohon, A. Ravignani, and T. Verhoef. NCU Press. [pdf]

2017

Culbertson, Jennifer, Annie Gagliardi, and Kenny Smith. 2017. “Competition Between Phonology and Semantics in Noun Class Learning.” Journal of Memory and Language 92: 343–58. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2016.08.001.[preprint]

Braquet, Guillaume, and Jennifer Culbertson. 2017. “Harmony in a Non-Harmonic Language: Word Order Learning in French Children.” In Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. [pdf]

Schouwstra, Marieke, Simon Kirby, and Jennifer Culbertson. 2017. “Silent Gesture and Noun Phrase Universals.” In Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. [pdf]

Buerkin-Pontrelli, Angelica, Jennifer Culbertson, Geraldine Legendre, and Thierry Nazzi. 2017. “Competing Models of Liaison Acquisition: Evidence from Corpus and Experimental Data.” Language 93 (1): 189–219. doi:10.1353/lan.2017.0006. [preprint]

Kanwal, Jasmeen, Kenny Smith, Jennifer Culbertson, and Simon Kirby. 2017. “Zipf’s Law of Abbreviation and the Principle of Least Effort: Language Users Optimise a Miniature Lexicon for Efficient Communication.” Cognition 165: 45–52. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2017.05.001.

Culbertson, Jennifer. 2017. “New Approaches to the Greenbergian Word Order Dependencies.” In Dependencies in Language: On the Causal Ontology of Linguistic Systems, edited by Nick Enfield, 23–38. Studies in Diversity Linguistics. Language Science Press. [pdf]

Culbertson, Jennifer, and Elissa Newport 2017. “Innovation of Word Order Harmony Across Development.” Open Mind: Discoveries in Cognitive Science 1 (2): 91–100. doi:10.1162/OPMI_a_00010. (open access)

2016

Culbertson, Jennifer, and Simon Kirby. 2016. “Simplicity and Specificity in Language: Domain General Biases Have Domain Specific Effects.” Frontiers in Psychology 6 (1964). doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01964. (open access)

Culbertson, Jennifer, Marieke Schouwstra, and Simon Kirby. 2016. “Word Order Universals Reflect Cognitive Biases: Evidence from Silent Gesture.” In The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference (Evolang11), edited by S.G. Roberts, C. Cuskley, L. McCrohon, L. Barceló-Coblijn, O. Feher, and T. Verhoef, 391–93. [pdf]

Culbertson, Jennifer, Elena Koulaguina, Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez, Géraldine Legendre, and Thierry Nazzi. 2016. “Developing Knowledge of Non-Adjacent Dependencies.” Developmental Psychology 52 (12): 2174–83. doi:10.1037/dev0000246.

Legendre, Géraldine, Paul Smolensky, and Jennifer Culbertson. 2016. “Blocking Effects at the Lexicon/Semantics Interface and Bi-Directional Optimization in French.” In Advances in OT Syntax and Semantics/Pragmatics: From Uni- to Bidirectional Optimization, edited by G. Legendre, M. Putnam, H. de Swart, and E. Zaroukian, 276–99. Oxford University Press.

2015

Culbertson, Jennifer, and Elissa L. Newport. 2015. “Harmonic Biases in Child Learners: In Support of Language Universals.” Cognition 139: 71–82. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2015.02.007.

Enochson, Kelly and Jennifer Culbertson. 2015. “Collecting Psycholinguistic Response Time Data Using Amazon Mechanical Turk.” PLoS ONE 10 (3): e0116946. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0116946.

2014

Culbertson, Jennifer, and David Adger. 2014. “Language Learners Privilege Structured Meaning over Surface Frequency.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111 (16): 5842–7. doi:10.1073/pnas.1320525111.

Legendre, Géraldine, Jennifer Culbertson, Erin Zaroukian, Lisa Hsin, Isabelle Barrière, and Thierry Nazzi. 2014. “Is Children’s Comprehension of Subject-Verb Agreement Universally Late? Comparative Evidence from French, Spanish, and English.” Lingua 144: 21–39. doi:10.1016/j.lingua.2013.05.004.

2013

Culbertson, Jennifer, and Colin Wilson. 2013. “Artificial Grammar Learning of Shape-Based Noun Classification.” In Proceedings of the 35th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, edited by Markus Knauff, Michael Pauen, Natalie Sebanz, and Ipke Wachsmuth, 2118–23. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. [pdf]

Culbertson, Jennifer, Paul Smolensky, and Colin Wilson. 2013. “Cognitive Biases, Linguistic Universals, and Constraint-Based Grammar Learning.” Topics in Cognitive Science 5 (3): 392–424. doi:10.1111/tops.12027.

Culbertson, Jennifer, and Géraldine Legendre. 2013. “Prefixal Agreement and Impersonal ‘Il’ in Spoken French: Experimental Evidence.” Journal of French Language Studies 24 (1): 83–105. doi:10.1017/S0959269513000380

2012

Culbertson, Jennifer, and Paul Smolensky. 2012. “A Bayesian Model of Biases in Artificial Language Learning: The Case of a Word-Order Universal.” Cognitive Science 36 (8): 1468–98. doi:10.1111/j.1551-6709.2012.01264.x.

Culbertson, Jennifer, Paul Smolensky, and Géraldine Legendre. 2012. “Learning Biases Predict a Word Order Universal.” Cognition 122: 306–29. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2011.10.017.

Culbertson, Jennifer. 2012. “Typological Universals as Reflections of Biased Learning: Evidence from Artificial Language Learning.” Language and Linguistics Compass 6 (5): 310–29. doi:10.1002/lnc3.338.

2011

Gross, Steven, and Jennifer Culbertson. 2011. “Revisited Linguistic Intuitions.” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62: 639–56. doi:10.1093/bjps/axr009.

2010

Culbertson, Jennifer. 2010. “Convergent Evidence for Categorial Change in French: From Subject Clitic to Agreement Marker.” Language 86 (1): 85–132. doi:10.1353/lan.0.0183.

2009

Culbertson, Jennifer, and Steven Gross. 2009. “Are Linguists Better Subjects?” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60: 721–36. doi:10.1093/bjps/axp032.

2006

Demuth, Katherine, Jennifer Culbertson, and Jennifer Alter. 2006. “Word-Minimality, Epenthesis and Coda Licensing in the Early Acquisition of English.” Language and Speech 49 (2): 137–74. doi:10.1177/00238309060490020201.

Get In Touch

If you have questions, are interested in working with me, want me to send you a paper, etc., get in touch!