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Observing language change and language processing: Old manuscripts, new brains

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Published on Jun 2, 2015

The Anna Morpurgo Davies Lecture held at the British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences on May 8 2015.
The lecture was delivered by Professor Aditi Lahiri FBA and chaired by Professor Nicholas Sims-Williams, FBA.

Speech requires a speaker and a listener, and both have their roles to play in language transmission and change. No word is ever spoken exactly the same even by the same speaker. Despite subtle variation, listeners understand with remarkable ease. It is the speaker-listener interaction that prevents human language from ever remaining static: change is subtle, but persistent and relentless. This talk traced language change and language processing, drawing on evidence of rather different kinds: old manuscripts, the traditional source of philology, as well as modern speech analysis and brain imaging techniques.

About the speaker:
Aditi Lahiri obtained her doctorate degrees from the University of Calcutta and Brown University. After teaching at UCLA and UC Santa Cruz, she became a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, in the Netherlands, followed by the Chair of General Linguistics at the University of Konstanz, Germany. Her honours and awards include the Leibniz Prize (from the German Research Foundation, 2000), Fellow of the British Academy (2010), and an honorary life member of the Linguistic Society of America (2013).

Technical note: we are sorry for the buzzing on the audio soundtrack to this video, which lasts for the first 30 minutes.

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