RESEARCH

What we do

Giv­en that there are sev­er­al thou­sand dif­fer­ent lan­guages, it is a strik­ing fact that all of them share so many prop­er­ties irre­spec­tive of their his­tor­i­cal and socio-cul­tur­al embed­ding. Equal­ly puz­zling is the enor­mous diver­si­ty among them. How could it be? There is a lot of emerg­ing inter­dis­ci­pli­nary evi­dence sup­port­ing the idea that the com­mon­al­i­ties are due to a human-spe­cif­ic genet­ic com­po­nent. In our work we would like to bet­ter under­stand the mech­a­nisms under­ly­ing vari­a­tion in lan­guage. While com­par­ing and analysing the struc­tures of dif­fer­ent lan­guages, we hope to be able to go one step fur­ther beyond the mere descrip­tion of “vis­i­ble” prop­er­ties of lan­guages and iden­ti­fy the abstract “invis­i­ble” pat­terns in lan­guage in gen­er­al.

The facts known from lan­guage acqui­si­tion seem to sug­gest that under­ly­ing mech­a­nisms in lan­guage must be very sim­ple. Oth­er­wise we could not explain how small chil­dren are able to acquire any lan­guage they are exposed to so quick­ly and effort­less­ly. Giv­en this, what we look for is sim­plic­i­ty and beau­ty in lan­guage.