Upcoming events

  • The 107th ICREA Colloquium ‘So far, so close: Two illustrations of how languages and their speakers adapt to their communicative niche’


    Speakers: ICREA Research Professor Dan Dediu, from Universitat de Barcelona (UB) and Prof. François Pellegrino, from Université Lumière Lyon 2 (Univ-lyon2)


    When: 24th of October 2023, 18:00h


    Where: Zoom & Auditorium FCRI, Passeig de Lluís Companys, 23, 08010 Barcelona


    In these two talks we will argue that linguistic diversity is not some sort of irrelevant "noise" grafted on a universal abstract structure, but that, instead, diversity is highly patterned and scientifically relevant. "True" universals are rare and, just like in biology, they emerge from diversity through evolution, in this case, cultural evolution. One such possible universal concerns the finding that the rate at which information is transmitted tends to be the same across very different languages, resulting from a fundamental trade-off between speech rate (how fast a language is spoken by its speakers) and information density (determined by the language's structure). This trade-off shows, in our view, that the speakers and the language are two inseparable sides of the same coin, and that constrains resulting from our speech organs, hearing and cognition act on language, forcing it to adapt to fit an optimal region of the communicative niche. Switching to differences between languages, we will marshal a number of examples of languages that do or do not have a certain feature (a specific word for blue, or sounds such as "f" and "v") because of the environment they are spoken in (how much ultraviolet light there is?) or by whom they are spoken (what kind of food do their speakers eat?). We will argue that such patterns of diversity, just like in biology, reflect adaptation to different constraints and affordances, only that in this case we are speaking of cultural entities evolving culturally.


    While such ideas are far from being new, the recent explosion in the availability of cross-linguistic data, of extremely powerful statistical methods and affordable computing power, and the increased cross-disciplinary collaborations have all conspired in making possible a "silent paradigm shift" in the language sciences.


    The ICREA colloquia are a great way to learn about remote fields of research from our best experts. We usually have two speakers, who offer their opinions on the same subject from different angles. They are open to all ICREAs and their guests.

  • The 108th ICREA Colloquium ‘The Einstein Telescope Project’’


    Speakers: ICREA Research Professors Mario Martínez and Diego Blas, both from the Institut de Física d'Altes Energies (IFAE)


    When: 19th of December 2023, 18:00h


    Where: Zoom & Auditorium FCRI, Passeig de Lluís Companys, 23, 08010 Barcelona