An Algebra of Thought that predicts key aspects of language structure


  • Uli Sauerland
  • Itai Bassi
  • Cory Bill
  • Abigail Bimpeh
  • Aron Hirsch
  • Paloma Jeretič
  • Marie-Christine Meyer
  • Andreea C. Nicolae
  • Kazuko Yatsushiro
  • Artemis Alexiadou



The Meaning First Approach hypothesizes that humans can form complex non-linguistic representations in an ‘Algebra of Thought’ independent of any language used in communication. Since the Algebra of Thought and language nevertheless must be related, one research program is to reverse engineer the Algebra of Thought from what is known about language. In this paper, we focus on universal structural properties of human languages. We investigate an Algebra of Thought fragment containing logical conjunction, a part-whole relationship and two cognitive efficiency requirements that exclude redundancies. We show that at least three universal structural properties of languages follow from these assumptions: cartographic hierarchies, the obligatory decomposition of non symmetric binary predicates, and the obligatory lexical content of dependent elements in binding dependencies.




How to Cite

Sauerland, U., Bassi, I., Bill, C., Bimpeh, A., Hirsch, A., Jeretič, P., … Alexiadou, A. (2023). An Algebra of Thought that predicts key aspects of language structure. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 27, 589–608.

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