Speaker series
Evolution and the Social Mind
Speaker Series
 
Human language and animal communication in the context of the evolutionary origin of language
 
A Presentation by Charles N. Li
Professor of Linguistics, UCSB
Friday May 21, 12:30pm - 2:00pm
Anthropology, HSSB 2001A
 
 
Topic
 
I will discuss the similarity and difference between human language and animal communication in the context of the evolutionary origin of human language. In particular I will point the the unfortunate and misguided focus on the notion of sentence in all contemporary discussion of human language, the uniqueness of human language, the attempt to train animals, especially great apes, to acquire human language.

Recommended reading: The Symbolic Species by Terance Deacon and The Origin of Modern Humans by Roger Lewin.
 

Speaker

Charles Li pursued undergraduate and graduate studies in mathematics and physics before becoming a linguist. After becoming a faculty and researcher in Linguistics, he took up bio-medical studies culminating in one year of postdoctoral fellowship in medical school. His research has been supported continuously by extramural grants from NSF, NEH, and other funding agencies. He has worked intensively on the following languages and language families: Chinese languages, Wappo (a California Indian language), Baonan (a Mongolic language in Central Asia), Hmong (a Hmong-Mien language in Southeast Asia). His research focus is on syntax-semantic interface, structural change in language, and currently evolutionary origin of language. He has published more than 80 articles and books, served on numerous editorial boards, lectured all over the world and taught in several countries. Last year he was fellow-in-residence at NIAS of the Dutch Royal Academy of Science.

 

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Speaker series
Evolution and the Social Mind
Speaker Series