Cycle de conférences de Dan Dediu

Chaire Internationale 2016

Dans le cadre des séminaires de Professeurs Invités organisées par le LabEx Empirical Foundations of Linguistics, nous avons le plaisir de recevoir le Professeur Dan Dediu, Senior Investigator, Language and Genetics department – Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen – The Netherlands

Language, genes and evolution

Lieu : Université Sorbonne nouvelle Paris 3 – Maison de la Recherche – Salle Prestige (RDC) – 4, rue des Irlandais 75005

Programme de la série des 4 conférences :

There is obviously something about our genome that makes us the only (surviving) language-using species on the planet, but the link is far from simple and linear. In this lecture, I will illustrate the main concepts, methods and findings relevant to the genetic bases of speech and language, by focusing on a selected set of genes that offer a glimpse into the bewildering complexity and unexpected beauty of the molecular mechanisms, and on their interaction with the cultural transmission of language.

  1. Lecture 2 : Dan Dediu II : Statistical and phylogenetic approaches to language change and linguistic stability – date : Mercredi 10 février 2016 (14h-16h)

Advanced quantitative methods and large-scale databases are becoming essential to answering questions concerning the distribution and emergence of linguistic diversity. I will use here the stability of typological (structural) features of language as an example of applying advanced statistrical and phylogenetic methods to large databases not only to shed light on essential questions in typology but also to uncover unexpected patterns seemingly pointing to ancient.

The patterns of human genetic diversity are not usually considered as a contributor to linguistic diversity, but I will argue that they could represent an essential (albeit weak) force in shaping the distribution of typological patterns accross the world’s languages. I will focus on the vocal tract as a source of systematic biases on phonetics and phonology, and I will delve into its genetic foundations as an example of the more general phenomenon of genetically biased cultural evolution.

  1. Lecture 4 : Dan Dediu IV : Language and speech are old, at least half a million years or so and yes, Neandertals spoke too – date : Jeudi 25 février 2016 (14h-16h)

Language origins and evolution are a notoriously difficult problem, but recent advances on many fronts allow a resurgence of interest based on strong empirical foundations. Here I will argue that we must place language and speech in their wider evolutionary context and consider all available data and methods ; as soon as we do this, language and speech (in a recognizably modern form) are revealed as being old traits, going back half a million years ago, and shared with our evolutionary cousins, the Neandertals and the Denisovans.-#