40 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2019
Date Written: April 8, 2018
This paper studies how languages are shaped by the cognitive costs that using them involves. We introduce a new continuous approach to characterize the optimal resolution of the trade-off between the precision of a language and the complexity of the structures it uses, and its dependence on the information the language is used to describe. Notably, when the cost of communication is endogenized using information theory, all words in an optimal language are equally precise and their precision is independent of the distribution of states.
Keywords: optimal language, communication, information theory
JEL Classification: D83, Z13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation