Optimal Languages

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

Dilme, Francesc, Optimal Languages (April 8, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3331077 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3331077

Francesc Dilme (Contact Author)

University of Bonn ( email )

Lennestrasse 35
53113 Bonn
0049228737957 (Phone)

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