LINGUIST List 26.4743

Mon Oct 26 2015

Confs: Neuroling, Philosophy of Lang, Psycholing, Syntax/Italy

Editor for this issue: Ashley Parker <>

Date: 26-Oct-2015
From: Ermenegildo Bidese <>
Subject: Theory of Language and the Debate on Language Origins
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Theory of Language and the Debate on Language Origins
Short Title: ToLDoLO

Date: 18-Nov-2015 - 20-Nov-2015
Location: Trento, Italy
Contact: Ermenegildo Bidese
Contact Email: < click here to access email >
Meeting URL:

Linguistic Field(s): Neurolinguistics; Philosophy of Language; Psycholinguistics; Syntax

Meeting Description:

Theory of language and the Debate on Language Origins

The Universities of Trento (Department of Humanities) and the University Ludwig Maximilian of Munich (Istitut für Deutsche Philologie) are pleased to announce an international workshop on theory of language and language origin. It will be held at the Department of Humanities (aula 007) of the University of Trento, Italy, from Wednesday to Friday, 18-20 November 2015.

There will be no conference fee.


In the last decades, one of the major trends in language theory has focused on determining what constitutes the basic properties of the language faculty (FL) zooming in on its core computational mechanism (Merge) and its connections (interfaces) to both the Sensorimotor (SM) and the Conceptual-Intentional (CI) systems. As a first significant result, the operation Merge has been taken to be the basic, pervasive mechanism of Universal Grammar ''for arranging items (sounds, words, word parts, phrases) into their possible permissible combinations in a language'' (Berwick et al 2013: 89, Glossary). As a second result, a great deal of research has concentrated on the process of externalization shedding light on both surprising analogies and patent differences by comparison with the vocalization systems of other species (cf. Watanabe 2011, Berwick 2011, Schlenker et al 2014, among others) and leading to several proposals also from an evolutionary perspective. However, the process linking the computational mechanism to the CI-system has been poorly investigated and both the neuropsychological and the philosophical issues behind the relationship between language (Merge), brain, mind and thought have mostly been neglected.

On the other hand, meetings and conferences on language origin and evolution usually prefer to take a very wide interdisciplinary view on the question, bringing together fields whose approaches, results and conclusions rarely give rise to a mutually beneficial dialogue.

The workshop's general goal is to contribute to the ongoing debate on language origin, taking an explicitly linguistic viewpoint.


The workshop aims to investigate the models of correlation between the computational mechanism of language and the interfaces with (but not limited to) special focus on the Conceptual-Intentional system as well as its connection with other cognitive domains like vision, spatiality and music from an evolutionary perspective. Researchers working on those topics in the areas of Neurolinguistics, Psycholinguistics, History of linguistics and Philosophy of Language as well as in Theoretical Linguistics, who are committed to the question of language origin and evolution, are strongly encouraged to submit an abstract.

Invited Speakers:

Andrea Moro (IUSS, Pavia)
Stefano Cappa (IUSS, Pavia)
Barbara Landau (Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, MD)
Daniela Sammler (Max-Planck-Institut, Leipzig)
Giorgio Graffi (U Verona)
Elisabeth Leiss (LMU, München)
Caterina Donati (U Paris Diderot - Paris 7)
Denis Delfitto (U Verona)


Wednesday, 18 November


Giorgio Vallortigara (Vice-rector for Research U Trento): Greetings

Andrea Moro (IUSS, Pavia): The boundaries of Babel and beyond

16:30 Break

Stefano Cappa (IUSS, Pavia)
The contribution of neuroscience to the language evolution debate

Andreas Trotzke (U Konstanz)
Shared intentionality from the perspective of theoretical linguistics

18:45 Conclusion

Thursday, 19 November

Daniela Sammler (Max-Planck-Institut, Leipzig)
Music and action – windows into the origins of language?

10:30 Break

Barbara Landau (U Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, MD)
The representation of paths in language and cognition: Universal asymmetries and their cause

Joana Rosselló Ximenes (U Barcelona)
Language evolution without interfaces or the power of vocal learning

12:45 Lunch

Giorgio Graffi (U Verona)
Origin of language and origin of languages

Jacopo D’Alonzo (U Sorbonne-Nouvelle – Paris 3)
Trần Đức Thảo: A Marxist Theory on Origins of Human Language?

16:15 Break

Werner Abraham (U Wien)
What are the guiding principles in the evolution of morphology: Paradigmatics or syntagmatics? What comes first?

Denis Delfitto (U Verona)
Negation as a window on the non-sequential nature of language interpretation

Friday, 20 November

Caterina Donati (U Paris Diderot – Paris 7)
Labels in Grammar

10:00 Break

Guido Seiler (LMU, München)
Duality of Patterning, structural well-formedness, and its relevance for language evolution

Elisabeth Leiss (LMU, München)
Language, memory, and the human mind

Round table chaired by Maria Rita Manzini (U Firenze)

13:15 Lunch

Venue: University of Trento, Department of Humanities, Trento, Via Tommaso Gar 41, Aula 007

Organization and contact: Ermenegildo Bidese (U Trento) (

Secretariat: Antonella Neri (

There will be no conference fee.

Page Updated: 26-Oct-2015