Download the position paper

Models of Language Evolution - Does the Math Add Up?

Workshop to be held April 14th at Evolang 2010, Utrecht


Important dates:

31 January 2010 EXTENDED Sunday 7 February: deadline for submission of extended abstracts

Sunday 14 Feb 2010: notification of acceptance

Wednesday 14 April 2010: workshop

Thursday 15 - Saturday 17 April 2010: main conference

June 2010: deadline for special issue submissions


Willem Zuidema (ILLC Language & Computation, University of Amsterdam)

Bart de Boer (ACLC Phonetics, University of Amsterdam)


Wednesday April 14, 2010
10h00welcome & general introduction
10h20Tao Gong (Linguistics, MPI/Leipzig)
10h55Joachim de Beule (Artificial Intelligence, ULB/Brussel)
11h30Martin Bachwerk & Carl Vogel (Computational Linguistics, Trinity College/Dublin)
12h05coffee break
12h20Garrett Mitchener (Mathematics, Charleston College/SC)
12h55Michael Franke (Linguistics, U. of Tuebingen)
13h30lunch break
14h30Dan Dediu (MPI/Nijmegen)
15h05Monojit Choudhury (Microsoft Research, Bangalore) & Animesh Mukherjee (ISI, Turin)
15h40coffee break
15h55Michael Arbib (Computer Science/Neuroscience, U. of Southern California/L.A.)
16h30general discussion
16h55round up

Workshop description

The last decade has seen an explosion of interest in mathematical and computational models of language evolution. Formal modelling is seen by increasingly many in the field as an approach to ensure internal consistency of evolutionary scenarios. However, there has been relatively little attention to the question of how well the many different models fit together. Are they consistent with and complementary to each other? Is there a series of models that really covers the evolutionary emergence of modern language from a prelinguistic, ancestral state? Are the assumptions that go into a particular model, if not justified by empirical findings, made plausible by results from other models? This workshop will bring together the main researchers in the field of language evolution modelling to discuss the assumptions that go into their models, the place of these models in scenarios of language origins and the relation to other models. The topics of the workshop are discussed in detail in a position paper by its organizers, available here (pdf).

The reference for this paper is:

Call for Papers

Contributions are sought in the form of extended abstracts, with a maximum of 4 pages following the formatting instructions of the main conference (see under 'submissions'). All submissions should be sent in pdf-format as an email attachment to Although contributions on the evolution of all aspects of language will be acceptable, and abstracts that discuss experimental data or formal modeling are preferred, contributions will need to be explicitly linked to one or more of the issues raised in this position paper. Dissenting views are especially welcome! Topics of interests are (but are not limited to):

* The evolution of articulatory control mechanisms

* The descent of the larynx

* The evolution of combinatorial phonology, compositionality and duality of patterning

* The evolution of hierarchical phrase-structure and recursion

* The evolution of syntactic categories

* Modelling methodology, critique of model-based approaches to language evolution

Special issue

Contributors to the workshop will be invited to submit a paper for a special issue of a major journal on the same theme. Details will follow in due time.


Registration for the workshop is handled by the main conference (see under 'registration').