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NCCR Evolving Language

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Prof. Paola Merlo of the CUI will participate in a new project on the evolutionary dynamics of linguistic complexity and specifically compositionality, the property of language where the meaning of a combination derives from the meaning of the parts. Deep learning models will be used to investigate how structure in natural language has progressively evolved from simple string juxtaposition.

2020 series

Home institutions: University of Zurich, University of Geneva

The NCCR “Evolving Language” is researching the evolution of language more broadly than any other research centre to date. The NCCR is using an interdisciplinary approach bringing together research groups from the humanities (linguistics, philosophy), biology, neurosciences, psychology and computer sciences.

Researchers are focusing on three issues: firstly, the dynamics of language structures and their evolution; then the biological prerequisites for language, including the related question of whether and how neurotechnologies could or should be used to influence language capabilities; and lastly, the social meaning of language and how it is likely to change with new means of communication.

The NCCR promises innovations and transfer services in medical fields (e.g. diagnosis and treatment of speech disorders) and in the application of digital instruments (human-machine communication, artificial intelligence, complex voice recognition).

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