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Congress on Evolution of Language


The Evolang Congress, i.e. 12th International Conference on the Evolution of Language will be held in Toruń from 16 to 19 April. The symposium is one of the more important humanistic events of this year in Poland. Biological and cultural sources of language will be discussed by scientists from six continents.

The organizers of the Congress are the NCU Faculty of Languages, the NCU Centre for Research on the Evolution of Language with dr. hab. Przemysław Żywiczyński, NCU Prof. and dr. Sławomir Wacewicz, as well as the Department of English Philology.

Evolang is the world's largest and most prestigious cyclic scientific symposium devoted to the evolution of language. The first edition of the conference took place in Edinburgh in 1996. Since then, meetings have been organized every two years in London (1998), Paris (2000), Harvard (2002), Leipzig (2004), Rome (2004), Barcelona (2006), Utrecht (2010), Kyoto (2012), Vienna (2014) and New Orleans (2016). Conferences usually gather a few hundred people from all around the world.

This year, Evolang will be held in Toruń, at the Jordanki Culture and Congress Centre at ul. Aleja Solidarności 1-3 (April 16th), and Hotel Filmar at ul. Grudziądzka 39-43 (April 17-19). The interdisciplinary sessions will be attended by renowned experts in the world, dealing with research areas such as biology, linguistics, anthropology, psychology, artificial intelligence, animal communication and cognitive science.

Plenary lectures on the iconicity of sign language, the primacy of music over language, human and pre-human culture in the context of language evolution and differences in generalization skills in children and adults, will be given by four outstanding experts: Prof. Karen Emmorey, Prof. Adele Goldberg, Prof. Jerome Lewis (a leading expert in the field of culture and communication of gatherer-hunter tribes) and Prof. Andrew Whiten (the head of the Centre for Anthropology of Sustainability at University College in London.

In addition to plenary lectures, the organizers planned: thematic sessions, including Human Behavior and Evolution Society; workshops dedicated to the origins and evolution of the formation of the sentence, the importance of modality, self-commutation of animals and the evolution of language or the role of archeology in the study of language sources; discussion panels during scientific sessions; poster sessions; papers on rare languages (such as, for example, hadza, isolated African language), as well as communication with primates, such as: pigs, birds, bats or seals; and several accompanying events. In total, approximately 180 talks will be delivered.

The Conference will be preceded with satellite sessions (15th April), which will be held in Collegium Humanisticum UMK (ul. Bojarskiego 1).

Among Evolang 12 partners there are: Polish scientific societies (Polish Society for Human and Evolution Studies) and world associations (Human Behavior and Evolution Society), cultural institutions (Copernicus Centre, Toruń Cultural Agency), leading scientific publishing houses (John Benjamins Publishing Company, Oxford University Press, MIT Press) and the media (TVP, Radio PiK, Radio Gra). The conference will be presented in the Science magazine.

The honorary patrons of the event are: Rector of the Nicolaus Copernicus University, Minister of Science and Higher Education, President of the City of Toruń, Marshal of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship, Starostwo of the Toruń Poviat.

Those willing to take part in the open conference events are welcome to:

• satellite sessions on Sunday, April 15 at the NCU Collegium Humanisticum (further details);

• opening ceremony of the conference and plenaries (from 15:00 to 18:00) on Monday 16th April at Jordanki CKK (up to the limit of available seats).

There will be a concert "Evolang 12" performed by the String Quartet of the Toruń Symphony Orchestra on Monday, April 16th at 19:30 in the Jordanki CKK The quartet will perform well-known miniatures of composers of various eras from the Baroque to contemporary times. Admission is free after prior confirmed registration – all the interested should send an electronic application (containing name, surname and month of birth) to: Registration confirmations will be sent from this address.

Participation in sessions on 17-19 April at the Filmar Hotel also requires registration – all the interested are asked to contact the secretary of the conference at

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