Genetic biasing in language and speech -
About this research programme
Some aspects of language and speech might be under the influence of genetic biases. Such biases, while weak at the individual level, are nevertheless able to affect language change through the repeated cultural transmission of language across generations of genetically biased speakers.This process could help explain some patterns of linguistic diversity (when populations differ in their genetic makeup), while also generating universal tendencies (when the biases are shared across the entire species).
This five-years project, funded by a Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) Vidi Grant, focuses on the investigation of such genetic biases in the area of speech production, looking at the effects of variation in the vocal tract on language and speech. The project is highly interdisciplinary with a strong quantitative approach and explores multiple avenues. The project is hosted within the Language and Genetics Department and involves close collaborations with the Language and Cognition Department.
- Extensive literature reviews encompassing several fields (such as physical anthropology, dentistry, phonetics, speech pathology, medical genetics and forensic science).
- Collection of much needed primary data on variation in the speech organs using techniques such as MRI and intra-oral optical scans - the ArtiVark project.
- Computer models of the vocal tract to understand effects of vocal tract variation on speech.
- Dan Dediu (Senior investigator and Group Leader)
- Scott Moisik (Research staff)
- Rick Janssen (PhD student)
- Stephen C. Levinson (MPI Nijmegen, Language and Cognition)
- Michael Dunn (MPI Nijmegen, Evolutionary Processes in Language and Culture)
- D. Robert Ladd (Edinburgh University, UK)
- Bart de Boer (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium)
- Heriberto Avelino (MPI Leipzig, Deptartment of Linguistics)
- Didier Demolin (Université Stendhal, France)