How did culturally shared systems of combinatorial speech sounds initially appear in human evolution? This paper proposes the hypothesis that their bootstrapping may have happened rather easily if one assumes an individual capacity for vocal replication, and thanks to self-organization in the neural coupling of vocal modalities and in the coupling of babbling individuals. This hypothesis is embodied in agent-based computational experiments, that allow to show that crucial phenomena, including structural regularities and diversity of sound systems, can only be accounted if speech is considered as a complex adaptive system. Thus, the second objective of this paper is to show that integrative computational approaches, even if speculative in certain respects, might be key in the understanding of speech and its evolution.
Bibliographic reference. Oudeyer, Pierre-Yves (2007): "Self-organization in the evolution of shared systems of speech sounds: a computational study", In INTERSPEECH-2007, 22-29.