The CIMeC Colloquia Series

October Colloquium
28 ottobre 2016
28 ottobre 2016

12:00 p.m.
Location: Aula Magna, Palazzo Piomarta (Istruzione) - Corso Bettini 84, Rovereto (TN)

The Doctorate in Cognitive and Brain Sciences is proud to present the October Colloquium Speaker:


Terrence W. Deacon

Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley
"Neither nature nor nurture: the semiotic basis of language universals"


The concept of a “universal grammar” has been hotly contested over the past half century. What is the source of the many highly convergent language structures in the world's many diverse languages? The usual lines of debate divide along nature/nurture lines: e.g. commonalities due to innate evolved cognitive predispositions or due to common discourse demands that become cultural conventions. But nature and nurture do not exhaust the possibilities. Many language universals are analogues to mathematical universals. These universal grammatical constraints are effectively “discovered” in the history of linguistic evolution, language change, and during process of language acquisition due to pragmatic feedback about failed or ambiguous reference. And many of the most critical semiotic constraints are discovered in prelinguistic and extralinguistic iconic and indexical communication. This makes both innate grammatical knowledge and the so-called poverty of the stimulus problem irrelevant.

Host: Francesco Pavani