LINGUIST List 11.147

Mon Jan 24 2000

Calls: Lang Origin, Comp Ling/Integrating Information

Editor for this issue: Lydia Grebenyova <>

As a matter of policy, LINGUIST discourages the use of abbreviations or acronyms in conference announcements unless they are explained in the text.


  1. Stevan Harnad, Language Origin/Evolution: Commentators
  2. root, Comp Ling: Integrating Information from Different Channels

Message 1: Language Origin/Evolution: Commentators

Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2000 23:02:18 +0000 (GMT)
From: Stevan Harnad <>
Subject: Language Origin/Evolution: Commentators


 The target article whose abstract appears below has today appeared
 in PSYCOLOQUY, a refereed online journal of Open Peer Commentary
 sponsored by the American Psychological Association.

 OPEN PEER COMMENTARY on this target article is now invited.
 Qualified professional biobehavioural, neural or cognitive
 scientists should consult PSYCOLOQUY's Websites or send email
 (below) for Instructions if not familiar with format or acceptance
 criteria for commentaries (all submissions are refereed).

 To submit articles or to seek information:


- --------------------------------------------------------------------- Sun Jan 23 2000
ISSN 1055-0143 (59 paras, 58 refs, 1 figure, 1281 lines)
PSYCOLOQUY is sponsored by the American Psychological Association (APA)
 Copyright 2000 Ullin T. Place

 Target Article on Language Origins

 Ullin T. Place
 School of Philosophy
 University of Leeds
 School of Psychology
 University of Wales, 
 Bangor, Wales

 Charles Catania
 Department of Psychology
 University of Maryland, 
 Baltimore County
 1000 Hilltop Circle
 Baltimore, Maryland 21250 

 ABSTRACT: This target article has four sections. Section I sets
 out four principles which should guide any attempt to reconstruct
 the evolution of an existing biological characteristic. Section II
 sets out thirteen principles specific to a reconstruction of the
 evolution of language. Section III sets out eleven pieces of
 evidence for the view that vocal language must have been preceded
 by an earlier language of gesture. Based on those principles and
 evidence, Section IV sets out seven proposed stages in the process
 whereby language evolved: (1) the use of mimed movement to indicate
 an action to be performed, (2) the development of referential
 pointing which, when combined with mimed movement, leads to a
 language of gesture, (3) the development of vocalisation, initially
 as a way of imitating the calls of animals, (4) counting on the
 fingers leading into (5) the development of symbolic as distinct
 from iconic representation, (6) the introduction of the practice of
 question and answer, and (7) the emergence of syntax as a way of
 disambiguating utterances that can otherwise be disambiguated only
 by gesture.

 KEYWORDS: evolution, equivalence, gesture, homesigning, iconic,
 language, miming, pointing, protolanguage, referring, sentence,
 symbolic, syntax, vocalisation

 EDITOR'S NOTE: Ullin T. Place died on January 2, 2000. His target
 article had been reviewed for PSYCOLOQUY and was essentially
 complete at the time of his death. Some minor editing has been done
 by PSYCOLOQUY Associate Editor A. Charles Catania, mainly to bring
 the manuscript into conformity with PSYCOLOQUY style. Catania will
 consider replying to commentaries on this article, but also
 welcomes the participation of others who may feel they are
 familiar enough with Place's perspectives to do so.

Retrieve the full target article at:

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Message 2: Comp Ling: Integrating Information from Different Channels

Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 13:55:17 +0100
From: root <>
Subject: Comp Ling: Integrating Information from Different Channels

This is the Final Call for Papers for the


 "Integrating Information from Different Channels
 in Multi-Media-Contexts"

to be held as part of ESSLLI 2000 at Birmingham (UK), August 6-18, 2000


- ---------------------------------------------------------------------

In everyday situations agents must combine information from different
sources: Reference and predication can be based both on gestural and
spoken information. Inferences demand extracting information from
diagrams and the text built around them. Focus of attention is often
indicated by visual, gestural or acoustic means.

The growing number of researchers interested in multimodal information
reflects its practical relevance, not least in the construction of
man-machine interfaces. In order to model complex multimodal
information, a notion of composite signal is called for in which
the different "threads of information" are integrated. Understanding
composite signals may be necessary for all fields of science dealing
with information, whether empirically or formally oriented. Research
in this area is bound up with logical, linguistic, computational and
philosophical problems like

 - assessing the semantic contribution of information from
 different sources,
 - compositionality in the construction of information
 - extending the notions of reference, truth and entailment in
 order to capture the content of "mixed information states" and 
 - experimentally measuring the activity on different channels or 
 - investigating timing problems concerning "interleaving
 threads" of information.

Despite their foundational flavour, emerging theories in this area
have applications in domains as diverse as discourse analysis
(monitoring and back-channelling behaviour), styles of reasoning,
robotics (reference resolution by pointing) and Virtual Reality
(integration of gesture and speech).

Consequently, the workshop is addressed to scholars from different
fields: We welcome experimental researchers investigating
e.g. gesture, eye movement or other means of focussing in relation to
speech. At the same time workshop contributions of linguists,
logicians or computer scientists are invited who work on the
description and the formal modelling of complex signals. Finally, work
concerning the simulation of production or understanding of complex
signals, Virtual Reality type, neural net like or other, is also

- ---------------------------------------------------------------------

For further and occassionally updated information, please visit

Kenneth Holmqvist (LUCS), Hannes Rieser (SFB360) and 
Peter Kuehnlein (SFB360)
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