"Human language
is an embarassement
for evolutionary theory"
(D. Premack)


This is the OLD website of Evolang-2000

Please, consult the permanent Evolang Web site


 This is the site of the

3rd Conference
The Evolution of Language
which took place in Paris, April 3rd - 6th , 2000


Ecole Nationale Superieure des Telecommunications
Paris - France



Organising Committee:

Prof. Jean Aitchison (Oxford University),
Dr Jean-Louis Dessalles (E N S Telecommunications),
Prof. James R Hurford (University of Edinburgh),
Dr Chris Knight (University of East London),
Prof. Luc Steels (Sony CSL Paris and Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

Local organisation:

Jean-Louis Dessalles (ENST Paris), Laleh Ghadakpour (CREA), Frederic Kaplan (Sony CSL), Luc Steels (Sony CSL), François Yvon (ENST Paris). 


Progamme Committee:

Jean Aitchison (Worcester College), Robert C. Berwick (M.I.T.), Derek Bickerton (Univ. Hawaï), Ted Briscoe (University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory), Rene Carré (ENST Paris), Bernard Comrie (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology Leipzig), Jean Louis Dessalles (ENST Paris), Jean Marie Hombert (Maison des Sciences de l'Homme Rhône Alpes), James R. Hurford (University of Edinburgh), Michel Imbert (Universite de Toulouse), Judy Kegl (University of Southern Maine), Simon Kirby (University of Edinburgh), Chris Knight (University of East London), Andre Langaney (Musée de l'Homme), Frederick J. Newmeyer (University of Washington), Luc Steels (Sony CSL & Vrije Universiteit Brussel), Michael Studdert Kennedy (Haskins Laboratories), Bernard Victorri (Ecole Normale Superieure Paris).

Confirmed Invited speakers:

Frans B. M. de Waal (Emory University), Stevan Harnad (University of Southampton), Bernd Heine (Universität zu Köln), Sue Savage Rumbaugh (Georgia State University), Herbert Terrace (Columbia University), Michael Tomasello (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology).

 Our sponsors

Ecole Nationale Superieure des Telecommunications

Sony Computer Science Laboratory Paris

Fondation Louis Leprince-Ringuet

University of East London
Dep. of Sociology and Anthropology

Groupe des Ecoles de Telecommunications


France Telecom CNET


This is the third International Conference on the Evolution of Language. The first one took place in Edinburgh, April 1996. The second conference was held in London, April 1998.

The aim is to bring together linguists, computer scientists, anthropologists, palaeontologists, ethologists, geneticists, neuroscientists, and other scientists who are concerned with the question of the origin and evolution of language. For several decades, such issues were considered non-scientific, as it was possible to imagine any fanciful scenario which may have brought our ancestors to talk. Now scientific data from several disciplines, when put together, dramatically limit what can be said on the origin of language. This issue has become a genuine scientific problem.

Many different topics are relevant to the question of the evolution of human language:

 origin of language

 origin of phonetic abilities

 origin of syntax

 origin of symbolic representation semantic abilities

 evolutionary significance of language, compatibility with natural selection

 language and the origin of culture

 chronology of the spread of mankind, and its relationship to language

 the continuity/discontinuity of the language faculty with nonhuman communication systems.


 dynamics of language evolution

 evolution of phonetic systems

 evolution of the lexicon

 evolution of grammar structures



After the Conference, contributors will be asked to send longer papers. A selection of these papers will be published in book form before the next conference in the series.

 Volume issued after the Edinburgh Conference

 Volume issued after the London Conference