Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Evolang 10 in Vienna, Austria - and reflections on the last Evolang

February of last year was the 9th biannual conference on the evolution of language – known affectionately as Evolang (  I had done some major saving and scraping to get together enough funds to go (especially since I had just had a wedding four months previously!), and dragged my new husband along with me too, promising that the evolution of language offers archaeologists PLENTY of interesting talks and networking opportunities.

I’ve been to Kyoto before, in 2006 when I went on a lone backpacking trip across Japan.  I absolutely loved the country and was so excited to return and utilise my rusty Japanese (for which I had brushed up on by taking an evening course after work twice a week, and submerged myself in language lesson podcasts!  (

It was my third time attending an Evolang conference, and my first time actually presenting.  I had two posters – one written with Luke McCrohan called Sea Crossings are an Unreliable Indicator of Language Ability in Hominids.  The second I piece I presented, and on an idea I had been slowly nurturing called The First Word Was Not a Noun.  It’s a subject I would ideally like to come back to and develop - I'm just not sure how.  What I do know is that the origins of syntax remains my most curious topic in language evolution…

So my husband and I spent 6 nights 7 days in Japan, and ended up having an amazing time.  Though we never quite recovered from the jet lag, we met up with some amazing people I’ve met at past conferences, and made new friends as well.  The conference itself was fantastic, and had some great talks by geneticist Simon Fisher, biolinguist Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, and of course the incredible Simon Kirby. Palaeolithic archaeology in general was a bit lacking (understatement!), save for a few mentions of Neanderthals here and there (many thanks to Sverker Johansson).  Unfortunately the lack of archaeology, paired with copious amounts of talks on Zebra Finches, made the conference a bit boring for my archaeologist non-linguist husband.

As the conference was now a year ago I don’t trust myself to go too in depth on any of the topics heard (in fact I’m just too lazy to retrieve my notes), but I'll try to be good when the next one rolls around - which will be in 2014 in Vienna!

Plenary speakers will include:

I hope to see you there!

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