Friday, February 12, 2010

LSA Special Interest Group on Biolinguistics

At the Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting in January 2010, the newly-approved LSA Special Interest Group on Biolinguistics had its first meeting. Below is the text of the founding proposal for the group. We hope to have more news in the coming months about further group activities, including a home page on the LSA website and a presence at the 2011 LSA meeting. If you are interested in being part of this (all LSA members are welcome; it's free), please let one of the founders know.

LSA Special Interest Group on Biolinguistics

We believe that there is an expressed need for the Biolinguistics SIG. With the term being used widely (and often loosely, and with different conceptions by different people, sometimes even negatively) in recent years, it is time that it receive a more graspable shape, an initiative this SIG would like to engage in. The timing is very opportune: In the past couple of years, several initiatives have been formed dedicated to biolinguistics, some even involving one of the co-proposers: the free online journal Biolinguistics (, edited by Kleanthes Grohmann and Cedric Boeckx, which currently has more than 2,500 subscribers and is supported financially by the co-proposer’s institution (University of Cyprus), the Cambridge Handbook of Biolinguistics, currently in preparation (also edited by Kleanthes Grohmann and Cedric Boeckx), the new John Benjamins book series Language Faculty and Beyond (edited by Kleanthes Grohmann and Pierre Pica), the Biolinguistics Initiative Research Group (formed by Cedric Boeckx), and more.

The Biolinguistics SIG will contribute to the field by helping to identify what makes biolinguistics ‘bio’ (and ‘linguistic’), initiate discussions on how it differs from previous models of generative grammar (and how it doesn’t), debate whether generative grammar is actually a prerequisite (arguably to be answered in the negative), and so on. This focus obviously sets the Biolinguistics SIG apart from other entities of the LSA.

The co-proposers of the Biolinguistics SIG are Dr. Kleanthes Grohmann, a tenured Associate Professor from the University of Cyprus and LSA member since 1997, and Dr. Bridget Samuels, post-doctoral researcher at the University of Maryland and LSA member since 2004:

Kleanthes K. Grohmann (Cyprus)

Bridget Samuels (Maryland)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Suggestions for NLC debate topics

Here's your chance to suggest debate topics for the 2010 Neurobiology of Language Conference -- head over to Talking Brains and make your voice heard!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Internalist Explorations of Meaning

The following are links to the video records of the talks delivered at the interdisciplinary reading group "Internalist Explorations on Meaning," held in Fall 2007 and organized by Dennis Ott (Harvard University).

In this talk, delivered at Harvard University on October 4th 2007, one of the major proponents of semantic externalism revisits the subject matter of his 1975 paper "The Meaning Of 'Meaning'," extending and updating his views about the nature of meaning and why it "ain't in the head."

In this talk, delivered at Harvard University on October 30th 2007, the most eminent linguist of modern times argues for a strictly internalist treatment of questions of natural-language meaning. Chomsky discusses externalist approaches of Putnam, Kripke and others who hold that crucial aspects of meaning rely on the nature of an independently given external world. This cherished tenet of philosophy of language, Chomsky argues, has things backwards: dropping unwarranted metaphysical assumptions, we find that the internal language system is purely syntactic and hence "in the head", as a part of the "cognoscitive powers" that construct the organism's Umwelt.

In this talk, delivered at Harvard University on November 13th 2007, Ray Jackendoff elaborates on his internalist approach to the study of meaning, called Conceptual Semantics. According to Jackendoff, it is necessary for semanticists to study not language in isolation, but conceptual structure ("thought"), the domain-general medium of mental representation.

In this talk, delivered at Harvard University on November 20th 2007, Juan Uriagereka seeks to answer the question how much of natural-language meaning is rooted in syntactic properties of the Language Faculty. Uriagereka argues for a multi-dimensional syntax that provides "spaces" of meaning, from which well-known semantic hierarchies are derived.

Delivered at Harvard University on December 13th 2007.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Welcome, everyone!

One of the many changes to the Biolinguistics journal for 2010 is the addition of this blog. We will be posting a variety of material pertaining to the field of biolinguistics. You can follow us @biolinguistics on Twitter (we will tweet when the blog is updated) or subscribe to our RSS feed, and we hope that you will also find our Google Calendar with upcoming biolinguistic events useful.

-Bridget Samuels, Hiroki Narita, & Txuss Martin

Summer Institute in Cognitive Sciences, "The Origins of Language" @UQAM, June 21-30 2010

Theme of the Summer Institute: The Origins of Language

Dates: June 21st to 30th 2010



Participating disciplines:

- Anthropology

- Archaeology

- Computer Sciences

- Linguistics

- Neurosciences

- Paleontology

- Philosophy

- Psychology

- Zoology

Language: Due to its international character, the Summer Institute will be held entirely in English.

The Institute is intended for:

- graduate and post-graduate students from the participating disciplines,

- faculty members, scholars, engineers, and professionals from these disciplines.

Academic activities: Contents will be presented through lectures, group discussions, and poster sessions.

Materials: All participants will receive the following:

- a summary of each lecture,

- a course package of complementary articles for each of the lectures.

Call for papers: Neurobiology of Language Conference

Conference: Neurobiology of Language
San Diego - November 11-12, 2010

The second Neurobiology of Language Meeting will be held in San Diego, California, on Nov. 11-12, 2010, as a satellite of the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. Topics will relate to the neural mechanisms underlying perceptual, cognitive, motor, and linguistic processes used to produce and to understand language in both children and adults. The conference will feature poster and slide presentations as well as keynote presentations by several of the field’s most distinguished researchers.

NLC 2010 will provide a unique opportunity to bring together researchers across a broad spectrum of techniques and disciplines, who rarely, if ever, attend the same meetings. A primarly goal is to foster interaction, collaboration, and new approaches to understanding the neurobiology of language. The symposium will provide a platform for the interdisciplinary exchange of ideas among researchers whose complementary interests provide an important foundation for issues related to the neurobiology of language, allowing for the emergence of a greater common understanding of the topic as a whole. Younger scientists are encouraged to attend and meet more established scientists in the field.

Call for papers (due June 1): here.

A special lecture on generative grammar by Cedric Boeckx, Kyoto, March 12, 2010

A Special Lecture on Generative Grammar


Cedric Boeckx

“A Theory of Fundamental Syntactic Categories”

Time & Date: 14:30-17:30, March 12th (Fri), 2010

Location: Kyoto Campus Plaza, Lecture Hall 1 (5F)


As Baker 2003 correctly observes, we still lack a good theory of linguistic

categories. Most proposals are based on parochial features, and lack

explanatory depths. In this talk I argue in favor of a more syntactic/dynamic

theory of categories, as part of a research program that I am involved in and

that seeks to minimize the appeal to (ad hoc) features. Special emphasis in this

talk will be placed on DP, and why the DP hypothesis is most likely wrong.

Under the joint auspices of JSPS Grant-in-Aid for

Scientific Research (No.21652037) & JAIST-EELC2010




言語の起源と進化の国際セミナー JAIST-EELC2010の招聘講師として来日するCedric










JAIST International Seminar on the Emergence and Evolution of Linguistic Communication

The source website:


JAIST-EELC2010 is an international seminar on the Emergence and Evolution of Linguistic Communication. It will be held in Kyoto, sponsored by Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology under the joint auspices of the Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas "The study on the neural dynamics for understanding communication in terms of complex hetero systems".

10-12 March 2010 inclusive
Campus Plaza Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan
Free to participate

Program (tentative)

3/10 (Wed)

13:00-13:10Opening remarks
13:10-14:40"BioLinguistics: A comparative approach"
Tecumseh Fitch (U Wien)
14:55-16:25"Biolinguistic minimalism and language evolution"
Koji Fujita (Kyoto U)
16:25-16:55Coffee Break
16:55-18:25"Prosody and recursion in primate vocalizations"
Didier Demolin (ULB)

3/11 (Thu)

09:30-11:00"Meaning coordination, semantic construals, and bodily action: implication for language evolution"
Rafael Núñez (UC San Diego)
11:30-13:00"Constructive approach to language evolution"
Takashi Hashimoto (JAIST)
14:30-16:00"The human language faculty evolving"
Cedric Boeckx (ICREA/UAB)
16:30-18:00"Cognitive mechanism of language and cultural evolution"
Yoshihisa Nakamura (Kanazawa U)

3/12 (Fri)

09:30-11:00"Biological preadaptations for language"
Kazuo Okanoya (RIKEN BSI)
11:15-13:15Panel discussion
13:15-13:25Closing remarks

Call for papers: The Language Design

Conference: The Language Design
Montréal - May 27-30, 2010

The last decade has seen advances in our understanding of the factors entering into the human language design stemming from linguistic theory, biolinguistics, and biophysics. This workshop brings together participants from a broad array of disciplines to discuss topics that include the connection between linguistic theory and genetics, evolutionary developmental biology and language variation, computer science/information theory and the reduction of uncertainty/complexity.

Call for papers (due March 15, 2010) here.

Call for papers: SOA 11 - Neurocognitive Contributions to Biolinguistics

Conference: The Science of Aphasia 11
Potsdam - August 27-September 1, 2010

The SOA 11 conference will bring together experts in biolinguistic theory with experts in the neurocognition of language and experts in animal communication. All three areas of research are by definition interdisciplinary fields and will be represented by leading researchers working on functional aspects as well as neurophysiological ones.

Abstracts are solicited for papers and posters from the field of
  • neurocognition of language
  • clinical and experimental work on aphasia
  • dyslexia and
  • related disorders.

Special session: Neurocognitive contributions to biolinguistics

Call for papers (due March 31, 2010): here