Hurford Prize
evolang 2010


Tuesday, March 11
"Forty years of ape communication. What have we learned about the evolution of language?". More info.


Detailed program (pdf file).

Wednesday, March 12
14:30 Registration
16:15 Opening address
16:30 Plenary speaker 1: Gary Marcus
17:30 Plenary speaker 2: Camilo José Cela-Conde
18:30 Break
18:45 Welcome buffet

Thursday, March 13
9:00 Plenary Speaker 3: Simon Kirby
10:00 Plenary Speaker 4: Susan Goldin Meadow
11:00 Coffee Break
11:30 Parallel sessions*
13:30 Lunch
15:00 Parallel sessions*
16:30 Coffee Break
17:00 Plenary speaker 5: Juan Uriagereka
18:00 Parallel sessions*

Friday, March 14
9:00 Plenary speaker 6: Rudolf Botha
10:00 Plenary speaker 7: Friedemann Pulvermüller*
11:00 Coffee Break
11:30 Parallel sessions*
13:30 Lunch
15:00 Parallel sessions*
16:30 Coffee Break
17:00 Parallel sessions*
20:30 Dinner

Saturday, March 15
9:00 Plenary speaker 8: Francesco d'Errico
10:00 Plenary speaker 9: Derek Bickerton
11:00 Coffee Break
11:30 Parallel sessions*
13:30 Lunch
15:00 General discussion and conclusion
16:00 End

(*) During the parallel sessions, the accepted contributions will be presented as talks of 30 min.


Workshop - March 11 (Tuesday)
Detailed program (pdf file) of the workshop and the regular conference.

Forty years of ape communication
What have we learned about the evolution of language?

In 1969, R. Allen and Beatrix T. Gardner published the first account of sign language-acquisition in a chimpanzee. This seminal paper stimulated subsequent ape language studies using other alternative communication systems including token use and visual graphic symbols. These reports set the stage for a long-standing debate that continues today over if and to what extent nonhuman apes are capable of human language. Over the past few decades the focus has shifted to ethologically based studies of the communicative and cognitive abilities of apes in both captive and wild environments. In many ways, there are significant parallels in the scientific questions that were addressed by these early ape-language studies and current approaches. These include questions regarding intentionality, function, the social use of communicative signals and, perhaps most notably, the relevance of these findings to the origin of human language. As the "ape-language" studies approach 40 years of serious scientific inquiry, it is time to take stock of the available data in this unique area of research. This symposium will include presentations from researchers who conducted seminal work on the capacity of apes to acquire elements of non-human language as well as those who have made considerable recent contributions to what we know about ape communicative competencies in both captive and wild settings. A common theme will be to explore what is known and what remains unknown regarding ape communicative abilities, and what these data can tell us about the evolution of human language.

Invited speakers

Duane Rumbaugh (Great Ape Trust of Iowa)
William Hopkins (Agnes Scott College & Yerkes National Primate Research Center)
Dave Leavens (University of Sussex)
Simone Pika (University of Manchester)
Katie Slocombe (University of York)
Jim Hurford (University of Edinburgh)


9:00 Registration (workshop and/or regular conference)
10:00 Welcome (Ramon Ferrer i Cancho)
10:10 Introduction (Jared Taglialatela)
10:30The language skills of apes and how they are acquired, Duane Rumbaugh (Great Ape Trust of Iowa)
11:20 Pointing towards Language, Dave Leavens (University of Sussex)
12:10 Natural vocal communication in chimpanzees: current and future focuses, Katie Slocombe (University of York)
13:00 Lunch
14:30 Our gesturing cousins: insights from their natural gestural communication, Simone Pika (University of Manchester)
15:20 Do chimpanzees have a "language-ready"" brain? Some new thoughts (and data) on some old ideas, William Hopkins (Agnes Scott College & Yerkes National Primate Research Center)
16:10 Comments by Jim Hurford (University of Edinburgh)
17:00 End


This workshop is organized by Jared Taglialatela and Ramon Ferrer i Cancho.


Organised by: Grup de Biolingüística
Support: Universitat de Barcelona - Servei de Tecnologia Lingüística (STEL) - Cosmocaixa -
Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia - European Social Fund -
- Departament d'Universitats, Innovació i Empresa (Generalitat de Catalunya)-
Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - Centre de Lingüística Teòrica