Edinburgh Lectures in Language Evolution

20th February 2017, 10am – 5pm, Informatics Forum, Edinburgh
FULLY BOOKED (but free space may be available on the day).

The Edinburgh Lectures in Language Evolution are an annual series of lectures surveying the state of the art in our understanding of the origins and evolution of language in our species. Each year, a distinguished visiting speaker will deliver two lectures summarising their own work and where they think the future breakthroughs in our understanding will come from. In addition, as part of this day-long event, there will be presentations showcasing work from the world-leading Centre for Language Evolution, as well as plenty of opportunity for discussion and debate.


Our guest lecturer for 2017 is Professor Morten Christiansen. Morten is Professor of Psychology and Co-Director of the Cognitive Science Program at Cornell University, as well as Senior Scientist at the Haskins Labs, Professor of Child Language at the Interacting Minds Centre at Aarhus University, and Professor in the Department of Language and Communication at the University of Southern Denmark. His research focuses on the interaction of biological and environmental constraints in the evolution, acquisition and processing of language. He employs a variety of methodologies, including computational modeling, corpus analyses, statistical learning, psycholinguistic experiments, and neuroimaging.

Programme of Events

10:00  Coffee (provided)

10:15  Morten Christiansen, Creating Language: From Milliseconds to Millennia

11:15  Coffee (provided)

11:30  Olga Fehér, Communication systems are shaped by interaction and transmission: insights from atypical birdsong and artificial languages

12:15  Marieke Schouwstra, The emergence of word order conventions in natural and artificial sign languages

13:00  Lunch (provided)

14:00  Richard Blythe, The curious parallels of biological and language evolution

14:45  Isabelle Dautriche, Learning homophones in context: the easy cases are favored in the lexicon of natural languages

15:30  Coffee (provided)

15:45  Morten Christiansen, Creating Language: Balancing Arbitrariness and Systematicity in Vocabulary Structure

17:00  Finish

Everyone is encouraged to attend for the full day if possible.