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Lecture | LUCL Colloquium - Fall 2015

LUCL Colloquium: Exploring the Potential Ecological Adaptations of Languages

  • Caleb Everett (University of Miami)
Friday 25 September 2015
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

Exploring the Potential Ecological Adaptations of Languages


In the last few decades there has been a fluorescence of findings revealing ecological influences on human behavioral diversity. Nevertheless, until quite recently these ecological influences were not thought to extend to one of the most studied strata of that diversity--language. However, some evidence now suggests that environment may influence linguistic form via associated population dynamics (Lupyan and Dale 2015). Additionally, recent research suggests ecological factors such as ambient desiccation, which is known to impact the operation of the human vocal tract, may yield direct pressures against the cross-linguistic adoption of certain sounds (Everett et al. 2015). In this talk I discuss the latter hypothesis, which is supported by extensive sampling of the world’s languages but requires further exploration through experimental methodologies.

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