final call: Workshop on Language Complexity as an Evolving Variable, Leipzig, April 2006

David Gil gil at EVA.MPG.DE
Sun Nov 26 14:05:37 UTC 2006

Final Call for Abstracts

Workshop on

12-13 April 2007
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Leipzig, Germany


There has been a widespread assumption that all human languages, past 
and present, are about equally complex (or are incommensurable in 
complexity), and that adult language users do not vary significantly in 
the complexity of their internalized language models. This idea survived 
the transition from 1950s' descriptive linguistics to the subsequent 
generative paradigm unscathed. Recently, many scholars have begun to 
question various aspects of this assumption, and to provide evidence 
against it. Arguably, some languages are more complex than others, and 
some individuals internalize more complex idiolects than others.

This workshop aims to provide a forum where these sceptical strands can 
be drawn together and tested by the research community. Invited speakers 

• Ngoni Chipere, Barbados ("Understanding Complex Sentences")
• Östen Dahl, Stockholm ("Growth and Maintenance of Linguistic Complexity")
• Guy Deutscher, Leiden ("Syntactic Change in Akkadian")
• Dan Everett, Illinois ("Cultural Constraints on Grammar and Cognition 
in Pirahã")
• John Hawkins, Cambridge ("Efficiency and Complexity in Grammars")
• John McWhorter, New York ("Defining Creole")


The workshop welcomes offers of papers either challenging or defending 
any aaspect of the assumption of equal linguistic complexity. Abstracts 
for 30-minute oral presentations should be submitted in electronic form 
(preferably pdf, but MsWord also acceptable) to David Gil at the 
following address:

gil at

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 15 December 2006

Decisions regarding acceptance/ rejection of abstracts will be announced 
on or before 15 January 2007



Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig


Geoffrey Sampson (Sussex)
David Gil (Leipzig)


Further information:
Inquiries: gil at

David Gil

Department of Linguistics
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

Telephone: 49-341-3550321 
Fax: 49-341-3550119
Email: gil at

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