Vocal Signals Across Animal Species: Bridging Research on the Concept of Meaning and Language Evolution
Presentation by Piera Filippi, organised by the Advanced Study Group Interspecific communiciation.
A central question in the study of the phylogenetic origins of language is: “What do animal vocal signals mean?” Extensive research has been addressing this question, providing data on the potential meanings of animal signals - for instance, in terms of information perceived by the receivers or of their behavioral reaction. In my talk, I will firstly show how philosophical research on the concept of meaning might be decisive for further progress in the empirical understanding of animal vocal communication. Secondly, building on this philosophical research, and within a comparative perspective, I argue it is essential to deepen our understanding of acoustic features used in signals related to emotional and body size information in animals. This is because, similarly to animal signals, acoustic modulation of the voice associated to emotion expression and body size is used in human communication. Thirdly, I will bridge research on the acoustic modulation of the voice in animals’ signals and recent key findings on the prominent effect of voice modulation on word processing in humans. Within this interdisciplinary approach to animal vocal communication and human language, I will suggest empirically testable questions that might help shed light on the evolutionary path of language.
About the speaker
Piera Filippi is a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Comparative Language Science at the University of Zürich, where she is also associated with the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Language Evolution and the NCCR Evolving Language Research Consortium.
Join the seminar online!
Zoom link: https://lu-se.zoom.us/j/63384079678