SOAS University of London

SOAS World Languages Institute

The big, bright future of linguistics

Russell Gray

Date: 16 June 2017Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 16 June 2017Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Paul Webley Wing (Senate House) Room: S312

Type of Event: Talk

SOAS World Languages Institute is delighted to be welcoming Russell Gray to SOAS to give a talk on 'The big, bright future of linguistics'.

Russell Gray is the Director of the Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History In Jena, and holds adjunct positions in the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland and the Department of Philosophy at the Australian National University.

His research spans the areas of cultural evolution, linguistics, animal cognition, and the philosophy of biology. He helped pioneer the application of computational evolutionary methods to questions about linguistic prehistory and cultural evolution. His work has shed new insights on the 200 year-old debate on the origin of Indo-European languages, dubbed by Diamond and Bellwood as “the most intensively studied, yet still most recalcitrant problem in historical linguistics”. In collaboration with colleagues in Europe he extended this evolutionary approach to test hypotheses about the roles of culture and cognition in constraining linguistic variation. In contrast to the claims of some generative linguists, the analyses revealed striking language family specific dependencies. His core research focuses on questions about the history of languages, cultures and people in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Russell Gray's website

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Organiser: SOAS World Languages Institute

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