The 9th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (Evolang IX) will be held in the historical city of Kyoto, Japan, from the 13th to 16th of March 2012.
Organizers: Roger Martin (Yokohama National University) & Koji Fujita (Kyoto University)
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Biolinguistics is a highly interdisciplinary study (including, at least, linguistics, biology, neuroscience, psychology, computer science, mathematics, and physics) that focuses on the biological and evolutionary aspects of language. At the center of this research stage have been the two so-called logical problems: that of language acquisition, often referred to as Plato's problem, and that of language evolution, or what some might call Darwin's problem. This is of course together with a range of additional “biolinguistic questions” concerning where and how language is represented in the brain, how language interacts with other components of the mind/brain, and so on.Needless to say, to address any of these concerns presupposes some understanding of what sort of natural object language is; that is, we need some theory of language—and, for this obvious reason, theoretical linguistics has always gone hand in hand with biolinguistic pursuits, often playing a guiding role. Recent developments in theoretical linguistics, particularly within the so-called minimalist program (Chomsky 1995, et. seq.), have served to (re)fuel the biolinguistic enterprise, and have led to a wide range of new perspectives on the design of the human language faculty and its evolution.The purpose of this workshop is to bring together researchers working on the sorts of general concerns briefly described above. In particular, it will address, from a biolinguistic perspective, some of the central issues concerning the nature of the computational procedure that maps lexical information to the kinds of objects that are interpreted at the interfaces. The workshop will consist of 5 or 6 invited talks of varying lengths including several keynote lectures by prominent scholars of biolinguistics. (Sponsored by JSPS Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research #23520458 [PI: Roger Martin] and #23242025 [PI: Koji Fujita].)
Language and Brain
Organizers: Noriaki Yusa (Miyagi Gakuin Women's University) & Hajime Ono (Kinki University)
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Language makes us what we are. In this respect the first decade of the 21st century witnessed an exponential increase in empirical and theoretical studies that are leading to the creation of a watershed between human and nonhuman communications. The workshop is intended as an interdisciplinary platform for discussing the results that current research into the brain and language provides, bringing together linguists, neuroscientists, philosophers, cognitive scientists as well as other researchers interested in the neurobiology of language. Given the fact that the evolution of language remains shrouded in mystery, the question of how languages are encoded or processed in the brain will be raised as a central topic. The scope of the workshop includes, but is not limited to, the following areas: aphasics, imaging language in the brain, language acquisition and development, language disorder, language processing, language and cognition, mirror neurons, social cognition. Brain scientists, psychologists, linguists, neuroscientists, computer scientists, philosophers, and other researchers interested in interdisciplinary research on neurobiological mechanisms underlying human language are invited to participate in the workshop.(Sponsored by JSPS Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research #21320078 [PI: Noriaki Yusa] and #23242025 [PI:Koji Fujita].)
Emotion and Language
Organizer: Tomomi Fujimura (ERATO, JST)
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Emotion and language are essential tools for communication but the relationship between two remains unclear. This workshop addresses the issue from following two perspectives.
First, human language explicitly conveys intentions and thoughts whereas emotion implicitly conveys information about subjective states. When your partner says “I agree”, you must infer his/her authentic attitude from his/her prosody, facial expression, and gesture which are emotional expressions. We use both linguistic and emotional information to understand other’s internal states. It is essential to study how emotion and language are integrated in perceptual processing for understanding of communication.
Second, emotion representations are partly defined by language. Human use words to express emotional states, i.e., anger, happiness, and sadness. Recent studies have reported that emotional representations are influenced by linguistic framework.
These two approaches provide a framework for future work on emotion and language. In addition, there are several approaches to elucidate a link between emotion and language. This workshop aims to provide an opportunity to discuss emotion and language from a multidisciplinary perspective, anthropology, ecology, neuroscience, psychology, engineering, and modeling. We would like to call for speakers in the workshop from diverse academic fields.
Animal Communication and Language Evolution
Organizers: Johan Bolhuis (Utrecht University) & Kazuo Okanoya (University of Tokyo)
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It has often been suggested that language is a uniquely human cognitive trait. At the same time, there may be evolutionary homologies or analogies between human speech and certain forms of animal communication at both the neural and behavioral levels. Through comparative study of animal vocal or non-vocal signals, we should gain insights into the origin and evolution of language.
Neural control and evolution of song sequences and vocal learning in birds will be one of the topics in this workshop. Language and birdsong obviously are different in that language has lexical syntax while birdsong does not. However, basic neural architecture for auditory-vocal learning may be shared between birds and humans. We discuss common features and unique features in birdsong and human speech.
Apart from birdsong learning, the workshop is open to research in other animal taxa and modalities of communication signals, as long as comparative perspective with human speech or language is provided. We particularly welcome presentations on gestural/vocal communication, social behavior. Topics on theory of mind, counting, and tool-using, thought not directly related with communication, are also considered as a comparative biological basis for language.
Constructive Approaches to Language Evolution
Organizers: Reiji Suzuki (Nagoya University) & Takashi Hashimoto (JAIST)
Constructive approaches, that are modeling, simulation and analysis of emergent phenomena by synthesizing life-like behaviors using artificial media such as computers, robots, etc., have played a substantial role in the understanding of the origin and evolution of language for two decades. They have allowed us to observe the emergence of linguistic properties arising from communicative interactions among agents on various levels and timescales, which are not easy to observe experimentally.At the same time, other various methodologies have also emerged, which have allowed us to obtain empirical data with regard to language evolution. Experimental approaches on cultural evolution of language enable us to observe the emergence of new languages or grammars used by human participants directly. The recent progress of new media or information technologies also allows us to grasp trends in real linguistic changes by analyzing huge linguistic resources such as google books, etc. Comparative approaches based on data from animal species such as vocal learning of songbirds is increasing its significance. In addition, mathematical approaches have contributed to better understanding of essential aspects of computational models such as an iterated learning model, etc.In the light of these recent developments and progress of interdisciplinary approaches for understanding language evolution, we would like to reconsider the significance of constructive approaches including computational and mathematical modeling for understanding language evolution in this workshop. We would like to invite contributions on language evolution based on constructive approaches. The authors are also requested to mention how constructive approach can contribute to language evolution.Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
- Simulation and analyses of emergent properties of language evolution based on constructive approaches including computational and mathematical models
- How constructive approaches can develop a mutually complementary relationship with other methodologies for understanding language evolution
- More general discussions of the roles of constructive approaches in scientific researches, including language evolution