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Selective “mourning” behaviour in chimpanzees
May 20, 2016
Researchers have shown that chimpanzees ‘mourn’ the death of a chimpanzee in their social group, and the way they express their mourning depends on how ‘close’ the chimpanzee was to the deceased. A collaboration between the Gonzaga University (Spokane, Washington, USA) and the Max Planck Institute (Nijmegen, Leipzig) shows that chimpanzees react very differently to the death of a socially integrated individual than to the death of an infant, and that they mourn in relative silence, which is unusual for chimpanzees. more >
The Language Archive presents her 64 collections of the UNESCO Memory of the World at United Nations Headquarters
May 10, 2016
This October, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added 64 collections to its Memory of the World register from The Language Archive at the MPI. Today Paul Trilsbeek will present these at the Fifteenth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The collections contain unique recordings and texts of 102 different languages, many of which are in danger of becoming extinct. more >
New open access book on turn-taking in human communicative interaction
May 09, 2016
How do people manage to have a conversation with such rapid speed and accuracy? Researchers in the Language and Cognition department have edited a freely accessible book, entitled 'Turn-taking in Human Communicative Interaction' dedicated to the complex multitasking we perform while in conversation. more >
Suzanne Jongman defends thesis on sustained attention in language production
Apr 26, 2016
Does language production ask for the ability to maintain attention? In her doctoral thesis, Suzanne Jongman investigated if, and when, word and phrase production relies on sustained attention in adults and children. Suzanne will defend her thesis entitled ‘Sustained Attention in Language Production’ on 26th April in the Radboud Aula. more >
The many ways of repairing conversations around the world
Apr 25, 2016
Wherever people talk, they run into misunderstandings and they need ways to ‘repair’ such problems. Until recently, this repair system had been studied mostly in English and a few other major languages. A new set of studies by language scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics documents this system in ten diverse languages around the world. Among other things, they show that ‘Huh?’ is not as impolite as people think, and that similar facial expressions occur with repair in signed and spoken languages. more >
Malte Viebahn defends thesis on acoustic-phonetic reduction in language processing
Apr 22, 2016
In his thesis, Malte Viebahn explored the interface between acoustic-phonetic information in continuous speech and more abstract linguistic knowledge, such as syntax, morphosyntax, and orthography when processing spoken words. Malte will defend his thesis “Acoustic reduction in spoken-word processing: Distributional, syntactic, morphosyntactic, and orthographic effects” on April 25th. more >
Sonja Vernes awarded with Human Frontiers Scientific Program grant
Apr 14, 2016
Bats share a rare ability with humans – they learn how to make their calls in a way similar to how children learn to speak. Sonja Vernes was awarded a Human Frontiers Scientific Program Research Grant with the goal of modeling this vocal learning ability in bats to shed light on how and why humans learn to speak. Together with collaborators from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Technical University of Munich and University of California at Berkeley, she received 1.2 million dollars to set out this novel line of research. more >
Das sagt man nicht, weil das ist ja falsch: The mystery of the many misplaced verbs in German weil clauses
Apr 04, 2016
If you speak German natively, you may have experienced a little shock reading the title sentence above. And the reason should be clear: The verb ist in the weil clause comes too early. Most people probably think they never make such errors. This may be so when writing German. But when speaking German, according to new research from the MPI for Psycholinguistics and the University of Koblenz-Landau, there are systematic reasons for the misplacement of a verb like ist in a weil clause. more >
Max Planck Institute
About MPI


The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

The institute is situated on the campus of the Radboud University. We participate in the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and have particularly close ties to that institute's Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. We also participate in the Centre for Language Studies. A joint graduate school, the IMPRS in Language Sciences, links the Donders Institute, the CLS and the MPI.


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