Founded in 1994, the ‘Dynamique Du Langage’ (DDL) research lab explores the interface between the diversity of the world’s languages and the universality of human linguistic capacity. Our research lies at the heart of major challenges of our times: from understanding language development in children and in language pathologies to issues of language documentation and vitality and the investigation of the origins of language. Since 2020, the lab is structured around two research axes (DENDY and DILIS : a fusion of the previous DTT and HELAN2 axes) and a transversal theme (COVALI)



Congratulations to Denis Bertet whose thesis Aspects of Tikuna grammar (Colombia) has been awarded an accessit for the 2021 thesis prize of Université Lumière Lyon 2.


Green, blue or « grue » ?

While some languages have separate words to refer to “green” and “blue” colors, others combine the two in a composite category named “grue” by linguists.
To explain these differences between languages, DDL researchers and their collaborators confronted several theories in a large data analysis. The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, provides an intriguing answer:
people living in brighter places – and therefore exposed to more UV radiation - are less likely to separate “green” from “blue”. Indeed, a lifetime of exposure to UV radiation would slightly worsen the ability to distinguish between the two shades. With time, these small differences in color perception may have prevented the use of a specific term for "blue”. But that is not the only explanation, and culture also determines how a language shapes the color spectrum.
Thus, the color lexicon would result from a complex mix of cultural and environmental factors. Ultimately, the objective of this study is to understand how the environment may carve the language we speak, while considering different theories related to language evolution.

Find the article of Josserand, M., Meeussen, E., Majid, A. et al. Environment and culture shape both the colour lexicon and the genetics of colour perception. Scientific reports (2021) here


Syntax and tool use share common brain resources and training one ability improves the other

Far from relying on brain regions specifically devoted to this faculty, language exploits the sensorimotor system to be processed. Some linguistic functions, such as the processing of word meaning, indeed activates brain regions that are involved in fine motor skills. Does syntax in language also relies on the motor system used to perform complex actions?
Researchers from the DDL laboratory and the IMPACT team at the CRNL, in collaboration with the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, unveiled that our ability to understand complex sentences shares neuronal resources with tool use which motor structure is complex. In a study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), they showed for the first time that the two functions elicit similar activations in the same brain region, the basal ganglia, with a similar spatial distribution. In a series of behavioral experiments, they furthermore revealed that training to use a tool (i.e. inserting grooved, key-shaped pegs on a board with the tool, for 30 minutes) significantly improves syntactic skills for complex sentences, and reciprocally, training with complex sentences for the same duration improves motor skills with the tool. These findings highlight that the motor system shares a syntactic function with language and offer new perspectives for language rehabilitation in patients. They also provide new insights into the coevolution of language and tool use. The study is published in Science here.

For more information please contact Véronique BOULENGER and Alice ROY


Matthew Stave has received the fisrt prize for "the best presentation by a post-doctoral researcher" "a usage-based approach to morphological typology" at the 54th annual conference organized by the Societas Linguistica Europaea.
Congrats to him.

Pop'Sciences Festival 2021

Participation of DDL to the Pop'Sciences 2021 festival at the Gallo-Roman Museum of St Romain en Gal on July 9, 10 and 11 around a linguistic space-time walk in the Viennese country.

Program and information on Pop'Sciences website.

Call for participation

As part of a research-creation residency, the CMTRA seeks to meet children from 10 to 18 months old who evolve in a multilingual context.

For several years, the CMTRA (Centre des Musiques Traditionnelles Rhône-Alpes) has been interested in the cultural, political and educational stakes of plurilingualism. How can we create the conditions for a rewarding, creative and inclusive coexistence of the different languages that make up our daily lives? Today, more than one child in four lives in a multilingual environment: in other words, more than one child in four hears and/or pronounces words from at least two different languages. It can be Spanish at home and French at school, French at home and Turkish at the nanny's, Arabic with mom and French with dad, or French with parents and German with grandparents.

We know today that living with several languages can be a major asset - and not a hindrance - to language development. This reality needs to be better recognized, understood and supported within families and educational institutions, starting in early childhood, in order to create the conditions for a successful multilingual project.

The project "From Babble to Babel: the sound spaces of plurilingualism" is a scientific and artistic exploration of the first sound productions (sounds and words) in a plurilingual context (French + another language). It is led by a researcher in language sciences - Sophie Kern from the Dynamique Du Langage laboratory in Lyon - and a musician-composer - Romain Joubert, and accompanied by the CMTRA team and by Jean-Luc Vidalenc, teacher and trainer in the French National Education system.

Do you know of any children aged 10 to 18 months living in the Lyon area who live with two languages, including French? We are looking for volunteers to participate in the project. Contact us and we'll explain everything!

More information : ici.

Workshop Constituency 2021

Online 28 April-4 May

The workshop will be online and is organized by the Laboratoire Dynamique Du Langage (DDL).

It will be concerned with the description and typology of constituency and its relationship to the morphology-syntax distinction. We are interested in studies that empirically motivate the distinction or else show that it is not necessary.

For more information on the conference, see : or contact


Geny Gonzalez Castaño has received an honorable mention for the Mary R. Haas Book Award of the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas for her PhD thesis entitled "Una gramática de la lengua namtrik de Totoró - Lengua barbacoa hablada en los Andes colombianos" (Université Lumière Lyon 2).

The SSILA awards ceremony will take place by videoconference during the business meeting of the SSILA annual conference on Saturday 9/01 between 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. French time; see details and registration (free).

[kosmopoli:t] the movie !

After the boardgame [kosmopoli:t], now the movie ! If you’d like to know (almost) everything about this adventure that lead us to create a boardgame here.



Sophie Bouton, has been awarded the “Prize Human and Social Sciences 2020” of the Association Rayonnement du CNRS: Anciens et Amis du CNRS (A3CNRS), of the Association des Amis de l'Université de Lyon and the Maison des Sciences Humaines Lyon St Etienne (MSH-LSE).

The award ceremony is now highly compromised. In the meantime, watch the video presentation of our award winner who explains her background and her research project here.


Foraging postures are a potential communicative signal in female Bonobos

Communication is at the heart of social life and sometimes it can take unexpected forms! A team of researchers from Lyon ( and (ENESLAB) has unveiled a very particular way of communicating in humans’ closest living relative: the bonobo. In a study that appeared in Scientific Reports on September 22, 2020, scientists demonstrated that adult bonobo females adopt a curious and somewhat uncomfortable posture in order to increase the visibility of… their backside! For almost 400 hours, the researchers observed 21 bonobos hosted at the primate park Vallée des Singes and, for each individual, they noted the occurrence and duration of the two main postures that these primates adopt when they eat on the ground. These postures are clearly distinguished by the position of the backside, "up" or "down" (see illustration). Statistical analyses carried out on more than 2,400 observations have shown that adult females differ from immature individuals and adult males. While the latter eat on the ground by adopting a crouching posture, adult bonobo females have a clear preference for the posture with the backside "up", especially when their genitals are swollen. In bonobos the sexual swelling signals to males the females’ fertile period... but not only! Indeed, in their society, sexual contacts pervade all type of relationships, regardless of the gender of individuals. Actually, the sexual swelling is very sexy for other females as well. By attracting other females, each female can strengthen her "feminist" alliances, that allow bonobo females to be the leaders of their group! By amplifying the visibility of their swollen genitals, bonobo females have found a way to advertise this powerful signal, even if the posture doesn't seem very comfortable. More generally, this is the first time that such a signal amplification strategy has been demonstrated in a mammal, although it is likely that the future holds lots of surprises ...

***POSTPONED to 2022***



The UNADREO co-organizes with the Dynamique Du Langage (CNRS / Université Lyon 2) laboratory and other international universities, the International Summer School, in speech therapy, a place of discussion and reflection on clinical practice, powered by recent research data.

For more information, see :

DDL at Game Festival in Cannes

The commercial release of [kosmopoli:t] took place on January 11, 2020, the game went on its first walkabout during the International Boardgame Festival, from February 20 to 23, 2020, at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes.

There, members of the laboratory involved in the project had the opportunity to present their game and the scientific booklet included.

The [kosmopoli:t] stand attracted around 3000 passionate players over the 4 days. The game also received a Cocktail d’Or trophy and ended at the first place of the 110 000 visitors Buzzmeter of the Festival. A real success !

Launch of game [kosmopoli:t]

After 4 years of work, the year 2020 marks the achievement of the [kosmopoli:t] game. The official launching party of the game took place on January 8th, 2020 at 6:30 pm at the Grand Amphitheater of Lyon 2 University and was organized by the lab Dynamique Du Langage (DDL).

On this occasion, representatives of our institutions gave a speech: Frédéric Faure, Regional Delegate of the Rhône Auvergne delegation from the CNRS and Nathalie Dompnier, President of the University of Lyon 2; as well as Sophie Jullian, President of Pulsalys, Antoine Guillaume, Director of Unit DDL, Egidio Marsico, project leader DDL, Émilie Ribeiro, project leader Pulsalys and Florent Toscano, manager of the boardgames company Jeux Opla.

The evening ended after a buffet and several games of [kosmopoli:t]!


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