'Language Protein' May Help Build Brain Circuits
Researchers of the Language and Genetics department led by Simon E. Fisher revealed that the FOXP2
gene and its protein are involved in early speech developmental processes. Fisher explains the workings of
FOXP2 as a "hub in a network of genes which might be important,".
- 7 july 2012 · AAAS ScienceNow (online)
Family labels framed similarly across cultures
Scientists may have found a couple of principles of relativity in family trees from different cultures, says Charles Kemp (Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh) and Terry Regier (University of California, Berkeley). Some languages veer more toward simplicity in defining kin relations, and others pack in more information, the researchers find in a new mathematical analysis of words describing family relationships. Cultural forces shape specific kin systems, adds Levinson
(Language and Cognition Group
), of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, Netherlands.
- 24 may 2012 · Science News (online)
Children, Not Chimps, Prefer Collaboration
In a study of collaboration processes, MPI researcher Daniel Haun
(Comparative Cognitive Anthropology Group
, as well as MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig) compared 3-year old children with chimps in order to see if both would have a tendency to collaborate on tasks or not. The results show that while children do prefer to work together, chimps do not. "Our findings suggest that behavioral differences between humans and other species might be rooted in apparently small motivational differences," says Haun.
- 23 may 2012 · Science Daily (online)
Gestures Fulfill a Big Role in Language
Research by Spencer Kelly, affiliated with the MPI project Language in our hands
(ERC, led by Asli Ozyurek) sheds new light on the relationship between gestures and spoken language. "Our results provide a glimpse into this past relationship by showing that gestures still have a tight and perhaps special coupling with speech in present-day communication. In this way, gestures are not merely add-ons to language -- they may actually be a fundamental part of it." Kelly says.
- 8 may 2012 · Science Daily (online)
Out of Africa? Data Fail to Support Language Origin in Africa
Opposite the proposition by Quentin Atkinson (
a cultural anthropologist at Auckland University in New Zealand) who claimed that the orgins of language might , Michael Cysouw together with Steven Moran (LMU, Munich) and MPI researcher Dan Dediu
(from the Language and Genetics department
) showed that this notion might not hold up and that the method applied by Atikinson might not work.
- 15 feb 2012 · Science Daily (online)
Majority-based learning in chimpanzees and humans
- 12 apr 2012 · Science Daily (online)
MPI Language of Perception project featured in television documentary
The Dutch popular science TV programme Labyrint featured MPI's research project "The Language of Perception", in an episode that explores the nature of language and the importance of linguistic diversity. Asifa Majid and Mark Dingemanse, researchers at MPI's Language & Cognition department, talked about their research on language and perception and their fieldwork in Malaysia and Ghana respectively.
- 25 Jan 2012 · Wetenschap24 / Labyrint (online)
Formal opening of The Language Archive
The TLA was officially opened on Oct. 12, 2011, at the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften in Berlin. Speakers were Wolfgang Klein (MPG), Angelika Storrer (BBAW), Theo Mulder (KNAW), Wilhelm Krull (Volkswagen-Foundation), Nikolaus Himmelmann (Köln University) and Paul Trilsbeek (TLA). There were a number of reports in the media, here are a few examples.
- 12 Oct 2011 · Suddeutsche Zeitung (PDF) (online) · Berliner Zeitung (PDF) · Frankfurter Rundschau (PDF)
Levinson and Dunn's research featured in Frankfurter Allgemeine
An article tracking recent developments in linguistics cites the work of Stephen C. Levinson (Language & Cognition Department) and Michael Dunn (Evolutionary Processes in Language and Culture Group).
- 11 jun 2011 · Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (PDF) (online)
Chimps "Mourn" Nine-year-old's Death?
Are chimpanzees mourning the deaths of a nine-year-old male and infant? Researchers of the MPI for Psycholinguistics have released never-before-seen video of a chimp community in Zambia reacting to the deaths.
- 13 may 2011 · National Geographic 13 (online)
Language universality idea tested with biology method
A long-standing idea that human languages share universal features that are dictated by human brain structure has been cast into doubt.
- 14 apr 2011 · BBC News (online)