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mer. 15/01/2020 Atelier Histoire et Ecologie des Langues: Linguistic diversity is influenced by variation in the anatomy of the vocal tract - some examples
14h00-15h30
ISH, salle Ennat Leger
Conférence de :
  • Dan Dediu
dans le cadre HELAN2

While it is generally accepted that the universal (i.e., species-specific) aspects of the human vocal tract shape the sounds used by languages, it is underappreciated how much such "universals" hide: there is, in fact, a vast sea of variation that might have something to do with the bewildering diversity of languages. I will survey the causes and patterning of anatomical variation in the vocal tract, and I will focus on some recent examples of how this variation might help better understand language evolution, change and diversity, such as the role of diet in the spread of labiodentals, or the effects of hard palate shape on vowels. I will argue that we must embark on a cross-disciplinary large-scale research program aiming to uncover the fascinating and complex causal processes connecting evolution, genetics, development, anatomy, linguistics, cognitive sciences and anthropology (among others) if we want to advance our holistic understanding of humanity, it origins and place in nature. And yes, language should be seen in its wider context which includes the biology of its users.


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