Research labs

Language Evolution lab

Developing a theory for the origins and evolution of language is the goal of this lab’s research. Such a theory necessarily involves three aspects: social, cultural and biological. The social aspect should give us answers to the question “Why did humans start to talk?” The cultural aspect looks to explain how new language forms arise in language and continue to change over time. The biological aspect addresses how the biological foundations for language may have arisen. The Language Evolution lab focuses mostly on the cultural aspect, developing and testing agent-based models to explain how features of language, such as agreement systems, arise and culturally evolve.

Principal investigator: Luc Steels

Members of the lab: Emilia Garcia Casademont, PhD Student; Miquel Cornudella, Research Collaborator, and Andrea Barquet, Research Assistant.

Congresses organised: 2

Oral presentations and talks given: 13

Main publications and other research activities:

Steels, L. and E. Szathmary (2018) The evolutionary dynamics of language. Biosystems 164. p. 128-137.2.

Steels, L (2017). Do languages evolve or merely change? Journal of Neurolinguistics Volume 43, pp 199-203.

Steels, L. (2017) Basics of Fluid Construction Grammar. Journal of Constructions and Frames, Constructions and Frames 9(2). p. 178-225. W. Benjamins, Amsterdam.

Main outreach activities:

Premiere of the opera Fausto at La Monnaie, Brussels (September 2018).

Funding (active projects in 2017 only):

Name of the project Atlantis
Principal investigator Luc Steels
Funding institution CHIST-ERA/Spanish Ministry of Science

More information: Language and Evolution lab’s website

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