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Biolinguistic Conference on Interface Asymmetries
November 10-12, 2017, New York City/NY, USA


According to the Strong Minimalist Thesis (Chomsky 2001 et seq.), language is an optimal solution to interface conditions, in that language is an optimal way to link sound and meaning. There is a significant asymmetry between the semantic interface, the system of thought, and the sensorimotor interface externalizing it, the first having primacy. This conference targets the asymmetry between these two interfaces, both generated by a binary syntactic combinatorial operation.

In addition to the main program, a workshop on Unpronounced elements at the interfaces will be held within the conference.

Recent work has shown that empty elements are pervasive in natural language syntax. In addition to well-known phenomena of movement copies, ellipsis and null pronouns, lexical and functional categories such as prepositions, articles and verbs are often unpronounced. For example, in English there are strong reasons to believe that (1a) should be analyzed in terms of a null preposition as shown in (1b):

(1)
a. John went there.
b. John went TO there.

This workshop targets the implications of these empty elements for the interfaces. What role do they play in morphology? What determines whether some word or morpheme is pronounced? What role do they play in the semantic interpretation? What do they tell us about human cognition?

The conference will also host a roundtable on Variation in functional categories, targeting a deeper understanding of language variation in the structure and the pronunciation of their constitutive elements.

[ conference information ]
[ call for papers ]
[ website ]




Biolinguistic Investigations on the Language Faculty: January 26-28, 2015, Pavia, Italy

This conference aims to contribute to our understanding of the human capacity for language, understood as a generative procedure that relates sounds and meanings via syntax.
While theoretical hypotheses about this relation are part of the generative enterprise since its beginnings, recent developments address the issue in terms of the properties of the 'language organ'.
Different hypotheses about the properties of the generative procedure, giving rise to the discrete infinity of language, are under discussion, and their connection with biology is open to important cross-disciplinary work.
Advances have been made in human-animal studies to differentiate human language from animal communication. Contributions from neurosciences also point to the exclusive properties of the human brain for language. Studies in genetically based language impairments also contribute to the understanding of the properties of the language organ.

We invite contributions presenting theoretical and experimental investigations on the properties of the Language Faculty.

Deadline for abstracts: 15 November 2014
Program announced: 15 December 2014
Online registration open: 1 January 2015
Conference: 26-28 January 2015

[ website ]
[ abstracts booklet ]




Advances in Biolinguistics: July 21-27, 2013, Geneva

This workshop focuses on advances on the understanding of the biological basis of language (Lenneberg 1967, Jenkins 2000, 2004, Chomsky 2002, 2005, 2011, Piattelli-Palmarini et al. 2009, Larson et al 2010, Di Sciullo et al. 2010, Di Sciullo and Boeckx 2011).
The workshop invites contributions where specific biolinguistic hypotheses are substantiated by theoretical linguistics evidence, empirical data and biological/natural world evidence.
The workshop includes the following thematic sessions:
     1. Language and biology
     2. Language typology and language universals
     3. The effects of natural laws

[ abstract booklet | poster ]



Sur la complexit\E9 des langues humaines: February 8, 2013, UQAM
*This miniworkshop on language complexity is in French.

Les langues humaines sont des syst\E8mes complexes, tant en ce qui a trait \E0 la nature des \E9l\E9ments linguistiques que par les propri\E9t\E9s des op\E9rations qui les composent de mani\E8re r\E9cursive.
Comment caract\E9riser cette complexit\E9, comment la localiser et comment est-elle trait\E9e par les syst\E8mes computationnels humains ou par les machines?

[ abstract booklet ]




New Perspectives on Language Creativity - Composition and Recursion: September 25-27, 2011, UQAM

This conference addresses central issues on the computational procedure that gives rise to the discrete infinity of language from a biolinguistic perspective. It aims to bring long lasting questions on language creativity into new light. It invites contributions on the properties of the composition operation and of the recursive procedure that might very well account for much of the progress made by the human species. It also invites contributions on the neuronal substrate of this computational procedure and raises the question whether this neuronal faculty sub serves grammar as well as other recursive systems, including mathematics and music. Finally, it invites contributions that deepen our understanding of the relations between biology and language impairments. [...]

[ visit the conference website ]




The Language Design: May 27-30, 2010, UQAM

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. [...]

[ visit the conference website ]




First Meeting of the INB: February 23-24, 2008, Tucson, Arizona

Organized by Anna Maria Di Sciullo and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, and sponsored by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research council of Canada, by the University of Quebec and by the University of Arizona.

The programmatic sessions of this first organisational meeting set the minimal architecture of this network, including possible websites, journals, summer schools, and permanent centers. The open sessions of the meeting consist of presentations and discussions of ongoing works in the field. The presentations aim to explore further the factors that according to Chomsky (2004, 2006, 2007) contribute to the growth of language in the individual, the genetic endowment, experience, and language-independent principles of efficient computation.

[ visit the conference website ]




Past conferences in Biolinguistics

[ Biolinguistic Investigations, Santo Domingo, 2007 ]
[ Biolinguistics: Language Evolution and Variation, Venice, 2007 ]
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