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Max-Planck Institute for the Science of Human History guests speak at ANU

2nd July 2019

Guests from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH) have come to ANU for two major events for the School of Culture, History and Language, this month.

This partnership has been a key goal for CHL, which has been recently reinforced by an announcement of further work together in the future. Director of CHL Simon Haberle, said that the National Institutes Grant request for Max Planck-ANU Research Centre for the Evolution of Cultural Diversity has been successfully funded from 2020 onwards, (dependent on further funding goals). Further details on this will be presented at the next School Forum in July/August.

The 24th International Conference on Historical Linguistics (ICHL24) is on from 1st until the 5th of July. It was developed in partnership by The ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, College of Arts and Social Sciences School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics and CHL.

The SYNAPSE Trans-Disciplinary Approaches to the Past Seminar series is the other event. This month it develops into the full workshop series Deep Histories in Oceania: unit, process, scale and calibration (DPO), taking place between 8th and 10th. This event is run as a joint partnership between CHL and the MPI-SHH.

Mary Walworth, Russell Gray and Simon Greenhill from MPI-SHH will be present at both ICHL24 and DPO. These presentations provide fascinating insights to a range of topics.

Mary Walworth is the Senior Linguist on the Vanuatu Languages and Lifeways project within the Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, from the MPI-SHH. Walworth’s research focuses on the evolution and interaction of Oceanic languages, specifically in Polynesia and Vanuatu. Her presentation on “Language contact and change on the Ocean(ic) highway”; discussed how high mobility, overlapping migrations and complex interactions impact language development in the Pacific Ocean region. She gave the plenary session Monday 1st.

Speaking at the DPO workshop, Walworth is presenting a paper in relation to the UNITS portion on Monday 8th. Talks in this part of the workshop will focus on discussion and examples of units of observation, and their strengths and limitations within and across disciplines.

Russell Gray is the Director of the Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution at the MPI-SHH. His paper written with Paul Heggarty, Cormac Anderson and Remco Bouckaert was titled “The Origin of Indo-European – solved?” It discusses finding out where and when the Indo-European language family arose. He spoke on this on Tuesday 2nd at the Great Hall sessions - Workshop: Computational and phylogenetic historical linguistics, at ICHL24.

Gray is presenting the SYNAPSE public presentation on July 8th. He will be covering the topic of “Words and Genes as Windows on our Past”. His core research now focuses on the application of ecological and evolutionary methods to the history of languages, cultures and people in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. While there has been a SYNAPSE talk continuing through the School every month in 2019, this hopes to be a special highlight for the school. The goal of these presentations is to keep the often intricate and difficult topics highly accessible to all audiences.

Simon Greenhill is set to speak at the Friday morning Great Hall session. He is a senior scientist in the Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution at the MPI-SHH. Greenhill’s paper presentation discusses “Lexibank: A global lexical database of the world’s languages”. This was written with Johann-Mattis List, Tiago Tresoldi, Christoph Rzymski, Robert Forkel and Gray. This presents ‘Lexibank’ which is a new framework to extend already published historical linguistics data.

As a part of the DPO workshop, Greenhill will be a discussant in the in the CALIBRATIONS portion of the program on Tuesday 9th. As a variety of disciplines present different models for analysis, there is calibration needed to combine these models. The talks in this part of the workshop will focus on these calibration issues – both the problems and the successes – across disciplines and regions.

ICHL24 has the aim of highlighting varied language and language families of the Pacific. Its main focus was Australian, Southeast Asia and New Guinean languages. It also showcased new advances in computational and phylogenetic historical linguistics and new ways of understanding our past with a trans-disciplinary focus. Other MPI-SHH guests of ICHL24 are Mark Hudson, Martine Robbeets, Nathanael Schweikhard, Meishin Wu, Paul Heggarty and List.

The DPO workshop will create discussions with a cross-disciplinary focus, of how evidence from the present, highlights patterns of continuity and change over time. Examples of this were contemporary lifeways and traces of past activities. It aimed to generate a series of further projects for CHL staff and students. Heidi Colleran, Matej Kriznar, Adam Powell, and Aymeric Hermann are other MPI-SHH guests who will be presenting at the DPO workshop.

Register for the public SYNAPSE trans-disciplinary seminar with Russell Gray – as a part of the Deep Histories in Oceania Workshop Program.

Updated:  7 July 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, Culture, History & Language/Page Contact:  CHL webmaster