[Lingtyp] Summer school adjacent to ALT 2019: `Language Universals and Language Diversity in an Evolutionary Perspective' - Villa del Grumello, Como, Italy, September 9-12th, 2019

Sonia Cristofaro sonia.cristofaro at unipv.it
Sun Apr 14 09:32:39 UTC 2019

************Apologies for cross-postings************

*Summer school on  `Language Universals and Language Diversity in an
Evolutionary Perspective' *

The school is organized by the University of Pavia ass-postingsnd the Lake
Como School of Advanced Studies, and is adjacent to 13th International
Conference of the Association for Linguistic Typology, to be held at the
University of Pavia, Italy, on September 4-6th, 2019. The school will  held
at the beautiful Villa del Grumello, Como, Italy (a short train ride from
Pavia and Milan), on September 9-12th, 2019.

*Website*: http://lude.lakecomoschool.org/

Sonia Cristofaro  (University of Pavia); Nicholas R. Evans (Australian
National University, Canberra / ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics
of Language);  Martin Haspelmath  (Max Planck Institute for the Science of
Human History, Jena / University of Leipzig)

*Local organizing committee*
Sonia Cristofaro (University of Pavia), Andrea Sanso’ (University of
In the 1960s, the pioneering work of Joseph Greenberg led to the discovery
that grammatical variation in the world’s languages  is not random. Some
grammatical properties are significanly more frequent than others
cross-linguistically. Also, there are recurrent implicational correlations
between logically independent grammatical properties, such
that, if a language has some property X, it also usually has property Y
(whereas Y can occur independently).  While these  are statistical, rather
than exceptionless patterns, they are commonly referred to as language

Ever since Greenberg’s work, language universals have been extensively
investigated both in linguistics and in a variety of other disciplines,
including for example psychology, biology, and computer science. In
linguistic typology, the research tradition that originated directly from
Greenberg’s work, universals are often explained in an evolutionary
perspective, based on a general view of languages as complex adaptive
systems. Universals result from multiple small-scale actions of different
speakers over time. A variety of neurocognitive mechanisms, manifested at
the level of speech production and processing, lead individual speakers to
create novel grammatical structures from pre-existing ones. These
structures are then selected, propagated and maintained in the language as
a result of the dynamics of social interaction between adult speakers, as
well as the dynamics of language acquisition (the vertical process of
language transmission from one generation of speakers to another). To the
extent that the same structures are recurrently created, propagated and
maintained in different languages, an overall pattern will emerge. This is
in contrast with the theoretical framework that goes back to Noam Chomsky,
where language universals follow from static inbuilt constraints in a
speaker’s mind.

While this evolutionary view is widely shared at the theoretical level, its
consequences for empirical research on language universals and explanations
thereof are still relatively under-explored.  What is the exact nature of
the neurocognitive mechanisms that lead speakers to recurrently create the
same structures in different languages? How do mechanisms of social
interaction lead to the propagation of individual structures? What is the
role of language acquisition in shaping particular universal patterns? How
can we disentangle and accurately model the effects of different mechanisms
of creation, propagation and maintainance of particular structures? How can
we extract evidence about these effects from the ever growing body of
available data on the grammatical structure of different, unrelated
languages all over the world?

The school brings together leading experts on these topics, who will
provide state-of-the-art reviews of the relevant issues and related
research prospects. Courses on offer include:

*Balthasar Bickel (University of Zurich)*

*Linguistic biases in biological perspective*
While much progress has been made in linking universal biases in linguistic
structure to internal mechanisms of language change and use, in this course
we will review recent work that extends the explanatory scope beyond
language itself.  We will discuss proposals to explain specific
distributional biases in terms of properties of the human brain and the
speech/sign apparatus. We will address the methodological challenges of
such work and its implications for probing the phylogeny and ontogeny of
language as part of a wider interdisciplinary undertaking.

*Holger Diessel (University of Jena)*

*The Grammar Network: How linguistic structure is shaped by language use*
There is a long tradition in linguistics to conceive of grammar as a
self-contained, deductive system consisting of primitive categories and
algorithmic rules that are analyzed with any consideration of how language
is used and processed. This tradition has been challenged, however, by
usage-based linguists and psychologists who have argued that grammar is
best understood as a dynamic network in which linguistic categories are
constantly restructured and reorganized under the influence of language use.

In this class, we will consider the dynamic network approach to the study
of grammar from a cross-linguistic perspective (Diessel 2019).
Specifically, we will be concerned with recent network analyses of
grammatical word class systems, constituent structure, case marking,
argument structure and word order. Combing research from typology with
research in psycholinguistics, the class explores how domain general
processes of social cognition, conceptualization and memory shape the
linguistic system. One aspect that will be of particular importance is the
effect of frequency on usage and development. The class provides an
introduction into the network model of grammar and emphasizes the
importance of general research in cognitive psychology for the
cross-linguistic study of language.

*Nicholas R. Evans (Australian National University, Canberra/ ARC Centre
of  Excellence for the Dynamics of Language)*

*The grammar of others: social cognition and linguistic diversity*
This course will explore the fundamental communicative domain of social
cognition and its extremely variable realization across the grammars of the
world’s languages. By social cognition is meant the sum of all cognitive
and affective processes needed to live in a world of other social beings,
and hominid advances in social cognition are increasingly recognised as the
fundamental change which underlay the human capacity to evolve language. At
the same time, it is a domain prone to great cross-cultural variation in
terms of what categories get grammaticalised, and in their frequency of use.

Elements to be examined in the course include the conversational nexus
(exchange of speaker/hearer roles; footing; the deictic field; attention
and engagement), relationships between entities in the social world
(kinship, group membership, possession), the social ramifications of events
(benefit, agency, volitionality, reciprocity), inner worlds of the self and
others (beliefs, intentions, etc.), and the relevance of personal histories
(who has done what before), as well as the various interactions between
these elements. In addition to standard methods in typology and linguistic
anthropology I will draw on material from a semi-parallel corpus study of
25 languages from all continents.

*Martin Haspelmath (Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History,
Jena/ Leipzig University)*

*Some universals of grammar with particular reference to coding asymmetries*
In this course, I will highlight and discuss the insights about Human
Language coming from the Greenbergian research programme of searching for
universal trends in language structures. Linguists have tried to derive
general insights from individual languages, or from the behaviour of
individual speakers (e.g. in psycholinguistics), but I will argue that
ultimately, all this research must be rooted in an understanding of
cross-linguistic trends if it is to help us understand languages. I will
also discuss the proposal that cross-linguistic generalizations are mostly
derived from trends of language change (Cristofaro 2019), and throughout my
lectures, I will focus on grammatical coding asymmetries (differential
marking and “markedness asymmetries”).

*Sabine Stoll, University of Zurich*

*Language development: uniformity in diversity?*
Understanding how language is learned is one of the main prerequisites for
understanding the transmission of languages over extended time. In other
words, it is an important cornerstone in understanding evolutionary
processes in language. In this course we will discuss the different
challenges posed by typologically very diverse languages. We will review
recent work that probes for similar features in widely differing languages
and aims at charting how specific features influence the learning process.

*Registration fee*: 135 Euros
*Deadline for application*: June 15th, 2019
*Notification of acceptance*: June 21th, 2019

For more information, please visit the school website.

Sonia Cristofaro
Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici
Sezione di Linguistica
Universita' di Pavia
Strada Nuova, 65
I-27100 Pavia
Tel. +390382984484
Fax +390382984487
E-mail: sonia.cristofaro at unipv.it
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lingtyp/attachments/20190414/54cd55bf/attachment.htm>

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list