Feedback on the 19th International Congress of Linguists (ICL19) in Geneva

The International Congress of Linguists took place in Geneva from 21-27. July!
http://www.cil19.org/en/welcome/

Because this conference was very big one, I can only tell you about things which I was interested in – I hope some aspects are also interesting for you!

One big event: Chomsky’s talk
Noam Chomsky was invited to give a talk.
You can watch a video here: https://mediaserver.unige.ch/media/2013/07/VN4-1172-2012-2013-07-25-B.mp4
He also attended to the Origin of Language and Human Cognition session briefly – it was really funny to be with him in an auditorium. 😉

Plenary talk: Tecumseh Fitch
If you know his book “The Evolution of Language” (2010), the most part of his talk was involved in this book. At first, he emphasized the difference between homology (descended from common ancestor) and convergence/analogy (separate, parallel evolution) and talked about the evolution of the flexible vocal tract to produce speech in terms of homology. Further, he talked a little about the vocal learning which should have evolved in terms of convergent evolution. The second part and the main point of his talk was about syntax as related to complex pattern perception investigated within the artificial grammar learning paradigm (AGL) and concluded that almost all animals can’t process the context-free grammars (CFG). Here, he show visual pattern recognition task as promising because one can avoid working memory question involved strongly in tasks with auditory stimuli. Here, we can see his current working hypothesis regarding complex pattern recognition as domain-general. Interesting point was the claim that we should investigate ‘animal phonology’ instead of ‘animal syntax’. In the last part of his talk, he implied the origin of hierarchical processing in primate social cognition and the exaptation of this in the course of language evolution.
This last part was actually the most interesting one though he took little time for that. The origin of hierarchical processing in primate social cognition is maybe his current interest. That’s why he emphasizes in his musical papers the social aspects of music. This is really funny because Jackendoff (2011) also mentioned about the possible origin of the hierarchical structure in primate social structure recognition. Fitch didn’t mention anything about the possible origin of hierarchical processing in action as claimed by other authors. Anyway, it was a very interesting and funny talk. 😉

Session 2: Origin of language and human cognition
This session was highly interdisciplinary – there were presentations from biology, computer science, theoretical linguistics to musicology (of course, musicology was added by me!). 😉
The first interesting point was claimed by Andrea RAVIGNANI (biology) talking about an experiment with squirrel monkeys. He tested the monkey’s sensitivity to the ‘dependency’ structure defined different from linguistic ‘dependency’ with stimuli fitting to their perceptual systems (frequency between 1 kHz and 11 kHz): they were able to recognize the pattern of the strings generated by the rules abna.
How this kind of ‘dependency’ would relate to the linguistic ‘dependency’ was not clear, but for future research, one could test monkeys with similar stimuli to several variations of complexity. It would be interesting to test, whether they can recognize rhythmic patterning like long-shortn-long.
The second interesting talk was given by Jeffrey WATUMULL (computer science) about the functional architecture of language in terms of Turing machine. He claimed that merge/minimal search as a sole operation of the Turing machine and the look-up table contains patterns of E-languages. On the tape, the Turing machine writes representations like {x,y}, {x, {x,y}}, … which are interpreted by interface systems.
I asked him what he thinks about the relationship between language and music in terms of his functional architecture – he basically agrees with Ian Roberts and Katz & Pesetsky, claiming that interface systems are different.
Further, many interesting talks were following. Especially three of them were relating to each other and gave a new perspective in the language evolution research. Cedric BOECKX had a strong idea of ‘syntactic protolanguage’ in which he was arguing for the ‘syntax first’ type of language evolution. The main point was “lexicon depends on syntax”, that is, without syntax, no lexicon. He suggested to pay attention to the gap between anatomical and behavioral modern humans. Here, he claimed merge as a ‘precursor of modern fully developed grammar’.
The similar claim was made by Koji FUJITA. He also regarded merge as the most important thing to investigate the evolution of language. One very progressive claim was gesture as the origin of syntax and tool use as the precursor of merge. Here, he suggested the transition from action merge over domain-general merge to linguistic merge in the evolution of human cognition. His understanding of the evolution of interface systems was also very different from the classic notion of merge + interfaces = language.
After these two presentations, I talked about what the comparative approach on language and music would tell us about the evolution of cognitive systems and their ‘humaniqueness’. I think, my talk added to the former talks another perspective from music research. My claim on uniquely human domain-general core computation processing complex hierarchical structure which is shared in language, music and action was fitting to the in-between step of domain-general merge claimed by Fujita from which the other cognitive systems evolved in the course of evolution. So, if it’s true, language and music share domain-general merge as their origin, but differ in the evolution of interface systems and the domain-specific merge. Maybe, language and music share some origins in terms of S-M interface system, but they are completely different in terms of C-I interface systems. I have still problem with the term “syntax” if this sort of considering the evolution of language is regarded as ‘syntax first’, but we can say “Your theory of language evolution depends on your theory of language” (Jackendoff, 2010), “Your theory of the evolution of syntax depends on your theory of syntax”. Let’s see, how the future research is going on. 😉

Workshop 109: Innovations in the study of language acquisition and language impairment
The first interesting notion was made by Chiara CANTIANI. She tested children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) and Developmental Dyslixia (DD) and found the delay in P600 and the existence of N400-like component in DD by grammaticality judgment task. She concluded that this N400-like component in DD shows a different strategy for morpho-syntactic processing in DD. To note that her interpretation of ERP components were based on Friederici (2002).
The second interesting talk was given by Heather VAN DER LELY. She emphasized the importance of the connection between cortical (BA 44 and BA 45) and subcortical area (Basal ganglia, especially striatum) in the processing of complex syntax (clausal level hierarchy).
This workshop was very nice to get an overview over the current state of art in the empirical approaches relating the theme. For example, what I really learned was that the name of the impairment tells us very little about the nature of diseases: some subjects with Dyslexia have difficulties in phonology, some in morpho-syntax, and the others both. Some subjects have both SLI and DD or only one of them – they have different problems.

Session 7: Psycholinguistics
One interesting talk was given by Hélène DELAGE about the relation between working memory and complex syntax in SLI. She suggested the syntactic complexity defined by the embedding and the  depth of embedding and claimed that working memory limitation in SLI relates to the limitation in processing complexity in syntax. The methodologically, she differentiated two tasks, simple-span task and complex-span task, in terms of the working memory model of Baddeley (1986) and the findings in Barrouillet & Camos (2001, 2007) and assumed that “1) the phonological loop using three ‘simple span’ tasks (forward digit span, repetition of words and non-words) and 2) verbal working memory (associating the phonological loop and the central administrator) using three ‘complex span’ tasks (backward digit span, counting span and running span)”.
Actually, I didn’t understand why the counting task relates to the complex-span task because I’m not familiar with that… If someone can tell me why, I would be very happy. Otherwise, I will also read the papers… 😉
Another interesting talk was given by Ulrich FRAUENFELDER about the modularity and domain-specificity in language and cognition. He emphasized domain-specificity as more important than the encapsulation and claimed that one should investigate the relationship between the faculty of language and other faculties (i.e. music) or other cognitive components (i.e. working memory).
Although this work was very interesting and will give a nice framework for the future research, I had feeling that he wanted to see shared aspects of language and music on the low, perceptual level, and not on the high, cognitive level because he placed the domain-specificity in ‘knowledge modules’ and shared sensory processing in ‘processing modules’. Actually, I couldn’t understand how special ‘knowledge modules’ can be processed by shared ‘processing modules’. I think, concerning this point, further investigation is needed.
I also heard a funny experiment about learning sign language in social context (in a class room) vs. with DVD and the activation of Broca’s area – the former showed the significant activation in the Broca’s area in exposed later to the sign languages, but the latter not. Actually, I don’t know whether this is really true, but it was really funny. 🙂

So, this is a ‘short summary’ of my experience of the conference!!!
If you have some comments, I would be very happy. 🙂
The conference was very nice, but it was really hot in Geneva!

SMPC 2013

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Title: SMPC 2013
Location: Toronto, Canada
Link out: Click here
Start Date: 2013-08-08
End Date: 2013-08-11

The biennial meeting of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition will be held August 8-11, 2013 at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. Ryerson has the fastest rate of research growth in the Province of Ontario (as measured by external research funding), and it leads the country in research publication growth over the past decade.

Toronto is an exciting conference destination, offering a diverse range of attractions, excellent dining, and world-class entertainment. The city is also safe and pedestrian-friendly, consistently ranked among the world’s most liveable cities.

KEYNOTE

Dr. Carol L. Krumhansl, Cornell University
“Musical Tension: Statistics, Structure, and Style.” For more information on Dr. Krumhansl’s work please click here

PUBLIC LECTURE

To coincide with SMPC’s efforts to help bring music perception and cognition research to the general public in order to promote broad interest in the field, we are pleased to offer a public lecture  by Dr. Daniel Levitin (Author of: “This is Your Brain on Music”) on Sunday August 11, 2013. Admission is free, and open to the general public as well as SMPC delegates. We hope to see you there!

CONTAKT

Conference Chair
Frank Russo (Psychology, Ryerson University):russo@ryerson.ca
Operations Coordinator
Tristan Loria (Psychology, Ryerson University):smpc2013@psych.ryerson.ca
Program Chair
Michael Schutz (McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind): schutz@mcmaster.ca

FotFS VIII: History and Philosophy of Infinity

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Title: FotFS VIII: History and Philosophy of Infinity
Location: Cambridge, England
Link out: Click here
Start Date: 2013-09-20
End Date: 2013-09-23

The concept of infinity has fascinated philosophers and mathematicians for many centuries: e.g., the distinction between the potential and actual infinite appears in Aristotle’s Physics (in his treatment of the paradoxes of Zeno) and the notion was implied in the attempts to sharpen the method of approximation (starting as early as Archimedes and running through the middle ages and into the nineteenth century). Modern mathematics opened the doors to the wealth of the realm of the infinities by means of the set-theoretic foundations of mathematics.

Any philosophical interaction with concepts of infinite must have at least two aspects: first, an inclusive examination of the various branches and applications, across the various periods; but second, it must proceed in the critical light of mathematical results, including results from meta-mathematics.

The conference History & Philosophy of Infinity will emphasize philosophical, empirical and historical approaches. In the following, we give brief descriptions of these approaches with a number of questions that we consider relevant for the conference:

  1. In the philosophical approach, we shall link questions about the concept of infinity to other parts of the philosophical discourse, such as ontology and epistemology and other important aspects of philosophy of mathematics. Which types of infinity exist? What does it mean to make such a statement? How do we reason about infinite entities? How do the mathematical developments shed light on the philosophical issues and how do the philosophical issues influence the mathematical developments?
  2. Various empirical sciences deal with the way we as finite human beings access mathematical objects or concepts. Research from mathematics education, sociology of mathematics and cognitive science is highly relevant here. How do we represent infinite objects by finite means? How are infinite objects represented in the human mind? How much is our interaction with infinite concepts formed by the research community? How do we teach the manipulation of infinite objects or processes?
  3. Infinity was an important concept in philosophy and theology from the ancient Greeks through the middle ages into the modern period. How did the concepts of infinity evolve? How did questions get sharpened and certain aspects got distinguished in the philosophical debate? Did important aspects get lost along the way?

Scientific Committee. Brendan Larvor (Hatfield, U.K.), Benedikt Löwe (chair; Amsterdam, The Netherlands & Hamburg, Germany), Peter Koellner (Cambridge MA, U.S.A.), Dirk Schlimm (Montréal, Canada).

Contact: bloewe@science.uva.nl

SEMPRE Conference: Music and Empathy

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Title: SEMPRE Conference: Music and Empathy
Location: Hull, UK
Link out: Click here
Date: 2013-11-09

This one-day SEMPRE conference hosted by the University of Hull will include invited presentations, a specialist workshop and selected submissions from researchers on the theme of music and empathy. In recent years there has been a growing interest in empathy in the fields of a variety of contexts, including education and development, emotion, expressiveness, and performance. This conference seeks to draw together current research from a range of areas, and to encourage and stimulate discussion on research in music and empathy.

Contact: : C.E.Waddington@2011.hull.ac.uk

Tracking the Creative Process in Music

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Title: Tracking the Creative Process in Music
Location: Montreal, Canada
Link out: Click here
Start Date: 2013-10-10
End Date: 2013-10-12

TRACKING THE CREATIVE PROCESS IN MUSIC
International Conference – 2nd edition

10-12 October 2013
Observatoire interdisciplinaire de création et de recherche en musique

Faculty of Music, Université de Montréal

Languages : French/English

INTRODUCTION

This conference, whose first edition was organized by Nicolas Donin and Vincent Tiffon in Lille (France) in 2011, brings together researchers interested in artistic creativity and the study of processes of musical and sound creation of the past and present. Researchers working on this cluster of problems from a wide variety of specialities (history, music analysis, genetic criticism, psychology, cognitive sciences, sociology, ethnomusicology, anthropology, etc.) are invited to assess the different methodologies developed in last thirty years in their respective areas in an interdisciplinary perspective. Each approach contributes in its own way to the advancement of our understanding of the procedures, techniques, knowledge and know-how employed by musicians involved in creative projects.

ORGANIZING COMMITTEE

Nicolas Donin
Michel Duchesneau
Jonathan Goldman
Catherine Guastavino
Caroline Traube

ORGANISING INSTITUTIONS

OICRM: Observatoire interdisciplinaire de création et de recherche en musique.

IRCAM: Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique (Paris), Analysis of Musical Practices Research team.

With the collaboration of the Faculty of Music, Université de Montréal, the CIRMMT (Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology) and the Schulich School of Music, McGill University.

The conference is under the patronage of ESCOM (European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music).

WEBSITE

A dedicated conference website in online at: http://tcpm2013.oicrm.org/

Website of the previous Conference: http://tcpm2011.meshs.fr/

Progress in Motor Control IX

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Title: Progress in Motor Control IX
Location: Montreal, Canada
Link out: Click here
Start Date: 2013-07-13
End Date: 2013-07-16

Important Dates:

  • Abstract Submission Deadline: February 14, 2013
  • Early Registration Deadline:  May 1st, 2013

Overview:

The three-day meeting brings together experts in diverse areas of Motor Control including the performing arts, such as dance, circus arts and music. There will be two scientific plenary sessions per day addressing the following areas:

  • Cortical and spinal mechanisms of motor control
  • Variability and redundancy in motor control
  • Equilibrium-point control and perception-action coupling
  • Motor control of speech and language
  • Motor control and recovery from injury
  • Motor control and the performing arts

Contact: pmcix2013@gmail.com

Language Sciences in the 21st Century: The interdisciplinary challenge

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Title: Language Sciences in the 21st Century: The interdisciplinary challenge
Location: Cambridge, UK
Link out: Click here
Start Date: 2013-10-03
End Date: 2013-10-04

Cambridge Language Sciences is hosting a major conference, Language Sciences in the 21st century: The interdisciplinary challenge, at West Road on 3-4 October 2013. The aim is to bring together an international group of researchers, whose work crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries, in order to explore key issues in language sciences. We hope the conference will be both a venue for the presentation of important new work and also a platform for Cambridge’s growing profile in this area.

The conference will include invited speakers, symposia, presented papers and posters. The four thematic strands will be:

Philosophy of language meets computational linguistics

Diversity and universals

Beyond our primate inheritance: Neurobiological and evolutionary approaches to language

Interdisciplinary perspectives on multilingualism

The first step in putting together the programme will be to gain an idea of the range of contributions which could come from Cambridge, how they may fit within the conference strands, and how they represent the emergence of broader approaches and themes. We are not, at present, inviting submitted papers. Expressions of interest based on cooperative or collaborative research are particularly welcome.

If you are a Cambridge researcher interested in the possibility of presenting your work at the conference, please contact Jane Walsh in the first instance by the end of January 2013 (jaw75@cam.ac.uk) indicating which theme or themes you feel your research might relate to, providing a brief description of your work and also an indication of how it meets the “interdisciplinary challenge”.

International Congress of Linguists

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Title: International Congress of Linguists
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Link out: Click here
Start Date: 2013-07-22
End Date: 2013-07-27

The International Congress of Linguists (ICL) takes place every five years, under the governance of the International Permanent Committee of Linguists (CIPL). The last congress took place in Seoul, year 2008. The Société Suisse de Linguistique (SSL) submitted a proposal for the organization of the 19th congress, in 2013, in Ferdinand de Saussure’s city, one century after his death. Geneva was chosen for the venue, and the Congress will take place there, from July 21 to July 27.

The title of the Congress is :

The Language-Cognition Interface

The sessions organisers have been chosen by the scientific committee :

1. Saussure and his legacy: Frederick J. Newmeyer (University of Washington, Seattle, USA, University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University, Canada).
2. Origin of language and human cognition: Anne Reboul (Institute for Cognitive Sciences, CNRS, Lyon, France).
3. The life, growth and death of languages: Claire Bowern (Yale University, USA).
4. Phonology and Morphology: Marc van Oostendorp (Meertens Instituut, Amsterdam, Netherlands).
5. Theoretical and comparative syntax: Luigi Rizzi (University of Sienna, Italy, and University of Geneva, Switzerland).

6. Semantics, pragmatics, discourse

7. Psycholinguistics: Ulrich Frauenfelder (University of Geneva, Switzerland).
8. Sociolinguistics and multilingualism: Edgar Schneider (University of Regensburg, Germany).
9. Experimental and computational approaches to language and linguistics: Eric Wehrli (University of Geneva, Switzerland).
10. Varia: Stephen Anderson (Yale University, USA).

The keynote speakers have been chosen by the Scientific Committee:

  1. History of linguistics: Giorgio Graffi, University of Verona, Italy.
  2. Sociolinguistics: Peter Auer, University of Freiburg, Germany.
  3. Syntax: Liliane Haegeman, University of Ghent, Belgium.
  4. Semantics: Angelika Kratzer, University of Massachussets, Amherst, USA.
  5. Origin and evolution of language: W. Tecumseh Fitch, University of Vienna, Austria.
  6. Pragmatics and cognition: Philippe Schlenker, Institut Nicod, Paris, France; University of New York, USA.
  7. Neurolinguistics: Karen Emmorey, San Diego State University, USA.
  8. Computational linguistics: Mark Johnson, Macquarie University, Australia.

Contact: 19icl(at)unige(dot)ch

International Symposium on Performance Science

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Title: International Symposium on Performance Science
Location: Vienna, Austria
Link out: Click here
Start Date: 2013-08-28
End Date: 2013-08-31

Performing Together

The ISPS 2013 theme, Performing Together, is intended to encourage discussion and debate on collaborative performing activities of all types and between various constituents.

Key dates

1 March 2013: End of early registration
15 April 2013: Deadline for papers for the ISPS proceedings
28 August 2013: Start of ISPS 2013

Program

The following keynote speakers will appear at ISPS 2013:

Tecumseh Fitch
University of Vienna (Austria)
Website »

Peter Keller
University of Western Sydney (Australia)
Website »

Emma Redding
Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (UK)
Website »

Alan Wing
University of Birmingham (UK)
Website »

Further information about the program will be posted here in February 2013.

Contact:cps@rcm.ac.uk

COGSCI 2012

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Title: COGSCI 2012
Location: Berlin, Germany
Link out: Click here
Start Date: 2013-08-01
End Date: 2013-08-04

CogSci 2013 is the 35th annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, to be held in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, July 31 – Saturday, August 3, 2013. We encourage researchers from around the world to submit their best basic and applied work in cognitive science to CogSci 2013, and to attend in order to discuss the latest theories and data from the world’s best cognitive science researchers. Submissions are solicited from all areas of cognitive science.

CogSci 2013’s theme is “Cooperative Minds: Social Interaction and Group Dynamics.” This theme reflects a rapidly growing interest in the Cognitive Science community, namely a move from the study of individual cognition to the social realm. A further topic will be Cognitive Interaction Technologies, a rather new field aiming at a thorough understanding of the processes and functional constituents of cognitive interaction in order to replicate them in technical systems.

This will be the first time that the Society will meet in Germany. More information on this matter will be posted on Travel Info as it becomes available.

Contact: cogsci2013@gmail.com