PhD Position: Open-ended robot interaction

We are looking for a highly motivated student with a major in Artificial Intelligence or Computer Science who has a strong interest in natural language modelling and symbolic computation. Your research project will be embedded in the Marie Curie ITN (Initial Training Network) project called ESSENCE (Evolution of Shared Semantics in Computational Environments).

For more information on this position and how to apply:

International Summer School on Agent-based Computational Models of Creativity

15 – 20 September 2013, Cortona, Italy

The Evolutionary Linguistics Association (ELA) is proud to announce its second summer school in Cortona on Music and the Origins of Language. The school is intended for postdocs, lecturers and predocs with a background in computer science and a strong interest in music and the origins of language.

The summer school will be held in Cortona, Italy from Sunday 15 September to Friday 20 September 2013. Lectures, activities and meals are all collocated in Hotel Oasi and the Palazzone di Cortona. Participants will all stay at Hotel Oasi.

The summer school has a wide-ranging program of background lectures introducing concepts from biology, anthropology, psychology, music theory and linguistics that are helpful to understand the nature of creativity, the role and intimate relations between language and music, and the mechanisms underlying cultural evolution. It further contains technical lectures on the fundamental computational components required for language processing as well as technical ateliers to learn how to set up evolutionary linguistics experiments. Participants have the opportunity to present their latest research in a poster session. The school also features artistic ateliers in which participants create new creative works and engage in performance.

Interested researchers can apply by following the registration information that is available on the website. There are a limited number of scholarships available that cover participation and accommodation fees.

It receives support from FP7 PRAISE and INSIGHT projects, EUCog and the ESF project DRUST.

For information and queries, please visit the website or email

Agent-based language evolution experiments in PLOS ONE

Why do so many languages display grammatical agreement between particular linguistic units such as words or phrases? How did it result in the numerous varieties of agreement markers that we find today? A recent publication in PLOS ONE by Katrien Beuls and Luc Steels explores these questions by making use of agent-based models that simulate linguistic interactions in an open population of language users. It shows for the first time how grammaticalisation processes may occur and spread through a population. The open-access article can be read here:

Full reference:

Beuls, K., & Steels, L. (2013). Agent-Based Models of Strategies for the Emergence and Evolution of Grammatical Agreement. PLOS ONE8(3), e58960. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058960.s001

Review of Experiments in Cultural Language Evolution

The Linguist List has recently published a review of the volume on Cultural Language Evolutionedited by Luc Steels. The reviewer, Nick Moore, highlights that “this book and other experiments by the same team provide empirical evidence
for the emergence of language based on evolutionary principles, on what we
currently understand about brain structure and organisation […] and, significantly, without the need for language-specific acquisition strategies”. The review can be consulted online through this link.