Theory of language and the Debate on Language Origins
The Universities of Trento (Department of Humanities) in cooperation with the University Ludwig Maximilian of Munich (Institut für Deutsche Philologie) is 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.