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Departmental Colloquium: Primate roots of syntax

CEU Budapest
Wednesday, February 12, 2020, 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

How did human communication transition from ancestral, primate-like communication to language? I will examine recent animal communication research for its relevance claims for evolutionary theories of language. Although there is good evidence for combinatorial and even compositional structures in animal communication, these data have not led to a coherent theory of syntax evolution. I explore an alternative theory, the even perception hypothesis, which is grounded in a cognitive propensity to perceive social interactions as possessing an invisible intentional, causal structure.