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[WS102] Advances in Biolinguistics


Author : Anna Maria Di Sciullo

Title : Advances in Biolinguistics

This workshop focuses on advances on the understanding of the biological basis of language (Lenneberg 1967, Jenkins 2000, 2004, Chomsky 2002, 2005, 2011, Piattelli-Palmarini et al. 2009, Larson et al 2010, Di Sciullo et al. 2010, Di Sciullo and Boeckx 2011). The workshop invites contributions where specific biolinguistic hypotheses are substantiated by theoretical linguistics evidence, empirical data and biological/natural world evidence. The workshop includes the following thematic sessions: 

  1. Language and biology
  2. Language typology and language universals
  3. The effects of natural laws

Session 1 Language and biology, addresses the question of how studies in language and genetics, language and the brain contribute to our understanding of the nature of syntax, morphology, the lexicon, and their interfaces with the other cognitive systems.

Session 2 Language typology and language universals, considers how biolinguistic studies on language evolution and variation shed new light on language typology, and the study of language universals. The questions raised in this session are the following: how is variation and change in the natural world related to language variation and change, and how the biolinguistic perspective may lead to new approaches to language typology and universals. 

Session 3 The effects of natural laws, discusses recent proposals on the effect of natural laws, such as prominence, symmetry breaking, reaction-diffusion, preservation of the shape etc. on language derivations and representations, on language variation and evolution, and on language acquisition. How do these laws interact with natural language?




Application for additional external support for the participants in the workshop will be filed to Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Fonds de recherche du Québec – société et culture, and the International Network in Biolinguistics.


Chomsky, Noam. 2001. Derivation by phase. In Michael Kenstowicz (ed.), Ken Hale: A Life in Language, 1–52. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Chomsky, Noam. 2005. Three factors in language design. Linguistic Inquiry 36, 1–22.

Chomsky, Noam. 2011. The poverty of the stimulus. Unfinished business. Ms. MIT.

Di Sciullo, Anna Maria & Cedric Boeckx (eds.). 2011. The Biolinguistic Enterprise: New Perspectives on the Evolution and Nature of the Human Language Faculty. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Di Sciullo, Anna Maria, Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, Kenneth Wexler,  Robert C. Berwick,  Cedric Boeckx,  Lyle Jenkins,  Juan Uriagereka,  Karin Stromswold,  Lisa Lai-Shen Cheng,  Heidi Harley,  Andrew Wedel,  James McGilvray,  Elly van Gelderen  &  Thomas G. Bever. 2010. The biological nature of human language. Biolinguisics 4. pp 4-34.

Jenkins, Lyle (ed.). 2004. Variation and Universals in Biolinguistics. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Jenkins, Lyle. 2000. Biolinguistics: Exploring the Biology of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Larson, Richard et al 2010. The Evolution of Human Language. Biolinguistic Perspectives. Cambridge University Press.

Lenneberg, Eric H. 1967. Biological Foundations of Language. New York: John Wiley.



25.07.2013   16:30-18:30

Title: Language and biology
Chair: Anna Maria Di Sciullo

16:30 - 17:30 Roland FRIEDRICH
Logic and Language
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17:30 - 18:00 Evie MALAIA et al.
Bioinformatic properties of sign language motion: fractal complexity of optical flow
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18:00 - 18:30 Antonio BENÍTEZ-BURRACO et al.
Variation, speciation and the development of sapiens' language ready brain
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26.07.2013   10:30-12:30

Title: Language typology and language universals
Chair: Lyle Jenkins

10:30 - 11:30 Giuseppe LONGOBARDI
Toward historial biolinguistics
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11:30 - 12:00 Antonio BENÍTEZ-BURRACO et al.
Should we expect a variable Faculty of Language?
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12:00 - 12:30 Joao COSTA
The robustness of language development: the role of crosspoulation and crosslinguistic studies
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26.07.2013   14:00-16:30

Title: Effects of natural laws
Chair: Giuseppe Longobardi

14:00 - 15:00 Lyle JENKINS
Natural Laws and Biolinguistics - the case of symmetry
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15:00 - 16:00 Anna-Maria DI SCIULLO et al.
Evo-devo language universals
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16:00 - 16:30 Boban ARSENIJEVIC
Context representation retrieval and update and the nature of the syntax-semantics interface
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27.07.2013   08:30-10:30

Title: Special session on language and mathematics
Chair: Roland Friedrich

08:30 - 09:00 Akira WATANABE
Mental representation of natural numbers and acquisition of numerals
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09:00 - 09:30 Koji ARIKAWA
Variable elimination in language system and mathematics
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09:30 - 10:30 Anna-Maria DI SCIULLO
The great leap forward and the emergence of complex numerals
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