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The Boundaries of Babel. Notes Between Brain and Syntax

The Boundaries of Babel. Notes Between Brain and Syntax
170 St. George St., Room 100
Time: Feb 28th, 3:00 pm End: Feb 28th, 5:30 pm
Interest Categories: Spanish & Portuguese (FAS), South Asian, Slavic Studies (FAS), Psychology, Philosophy (UTSC), Philosophy (UTM), Philosophy (FAS), Linguistics (FAS), Latin American, Language Studies (UTM), Italian Studies (FAS), Indigenous, German (FAS), French and Linguistics (UTSC), French (FAS), East Asian Studies (FAS), Critical Theory, Comparative Literature (FAS), Communications, Communication, Culture, Information and Technology (UTM), Caribbean, Anthropology (UTM), African
Lecture two (of four) in the series Beyond Babel, by Andrea Moro (Institute for Advanced Study, IUSS Pavia)

The Jackman Humanities Institute Program for the Arts on Translation and the Multiplicity of Languages is pleased to present a series of four invited lectures titled Beyond Babel

Lecture Two (of four)

Andrea Moro (Institute for Advanced Study, IUSS Pavia)

The Boundaries of Babel: Notes between Brain and Syntax

One of the major discoveries of modern linguistics is that languages cannot vary unboundedly; even grammar must meet some universal principals which generate an enormous but not infinite number of combinations in a modular way. The system is so complex that this underlying uniformity has escaped the attention of scholars for centuries. Only formal grammars have been able to arrive at this discovery in the last fifty years of research. A crucial question that naturally arises from this state of affairs is whether the limit of variation among grammars is accidental or biologically driven. Recent methodologies that allow us to explore the functioning of the brain in vivo have allowed us to approach this question in a new way. By testing the acquisition of artificial languages which violate the universal principals of grammar it has been possible to provide strong evidence in favour of a biological perspective to the mystery of the absence of entire classes of conceivable grammars.

This event is free and open to the public.  For further information, please contact the organizers, Professor Maria Cristina Cuervo, Professor Ana T. Pérez-Leroux and Professor Susana Bejar or the Jackman Humanities Institute, (416) 946-0313.

Download flyer [pdf]

The other lectures in this series are:

  • Friday 7 February at 3:00 pm: Ianthi Tsimpli (University of Thessaloniki): "Aspects of Meaning in the Bilingual Mind"
  • Friday 7 March at 3:00 pm: Anna Papafragou (University of Delaware) "Events in Language and Thought"
  • Friday 28 March at 3:00 pm: Lisa Matthewson (University of British Columbia) "Semantic Uniformity and Diversity: Evidence from the Pacific Northwest"

All will be held in the Jackman Humanities Building, Room 100.

Orgaized by the Department of Linguistics, UTSG.  Additional assistance has been provided by:

  • Centre for French and Linguistics, UTSC
  • Department of Anthropology, UTM
  • Department of Language Studies, UTM
  • Department of Psychology, UTM
  • Department of French, UTSG
  • Department of German, UTSG
  • Department of Italian Studies, UTSG
  • The Emilio Goggio Chair in Italian Studies
  • Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures, UTSG
  • Department of Spanish & Portuguese, UTSG
  • New College, UTSG
  • Victoria College, UTSG

Download series flyer [pdf]


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