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Themes and actions

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  Evolution of languages
  Origins of language and languages
  Languages and Genes

Evolution of languages

This research operation gathers research activities on the recent evolution of languages. The studies here deal with different dimensions of linguistic evolutions, from phonological to semantic and lexical changes. The computer tool is especially at use, since in addition to the development of several databases, computerized analyses of data and modelling approaches have been designed in all the projects.

Databases: CaSSoPi, BDPRoto, DEEPER, Fishes of Gabon
 Christian FRESSARD , Egidio MARSICO
databases; interfaces; statistics; typology; phonology; reconstructions; proto-lexicon; Bantu; ichthyology

Modelling of the structure and evolution of phonetic/phonological systems
phonological systems; evolution; synchrony; diachrony; modelling; complex dynamical systems; databases

Semantic changes: diversity of approaches
 Jean-Philippe MAGUÉ
semantics; lexical semantics; diachrony; semantic shifts; modelling; multi-agents systems

Variability in production and perception of speech
 Jalaleddin AL-TAMIMI , René CARRÉ , Egidio MARSICO
production; perception; variations; speech; phonetic changes

Origins of language and languages

This second research operation spreads over much wider timescales than the former one. The research activities on the origins of language and languages indeed closely follow those on the development of the human species during the last millions of years of prehistory. We work in particular on the first sea-crossings as cues of language, and on the evolution of the diversity and complexity of languages before the Neolithic. The emphasis is put on the use of data on prehistory and of computer tools to design simple but relevant simulations to partly rebuild the emergence of language and languages.
In the longer run, we aim at pushing forward the notion of paleo-cognition, through the analysis of the cognitive activities of our predecessors, especially at the level of the communication between individuals.

First sea-crossings and the origin of language
 Christophe COUPÉ , Jean-Marie HOMBERT
migrations; Homo sapiens; Homo erectus; paleogeography; sea level; sea-crossings; visibility

Origin of languages and linguistic diversity during prehistory
 Christophe COUPÉ
modelling; complexity; diversity; polygenesis; monogenesis; paleodemography; social networks; fitness landscape

Languages and Genes

Since the first studies by L. Cavalli-Sforza on the comparisons between linguistic and genetic classifications, numerous studies on different human populations have been succeeding one another, sometimes putting forward good correlations between genetic and linguistic markers, and sometimes differences that have to be explained. Such dual approaches draw new perspectives to better understand the history of human migrations and contacts between populations.
In order to refine the knowledge in the domains of expertise of the laboratory, namely the Berber and Gabonese populations, several linguists of the team have started collaborations with population geneticists and archaeologists to conduct precise fieldwork by gathering the competences of all. Moreover, a more theoretical approach has also been taken to think more globally to the relevance of comparing classifications of different disciplines.

Berber languages and Berber peoples: genetic and linguistic diversity
historical linguistics; genetics; Berber

Evaluating congruence between genetic, morphological and linguistic evolutions : models and methods.
historical linguistics; phylogenetics; morphology; theory; congruence

Language, Culture, and Genes in Bantu: a multidisciplinary approach to the study of the Bantu-speaking populations of Africa
historical linguistics; genetics; Bantu

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