Protolang 5


Barcelona, September 26—28, 2017

Invited speakers

vernesSonja Vernes leads the Neurogenetics of Vocal Communication Research Group at the MPI for Psycholinguistics (Nijmegen). Her current work sheds novel light on the genetic basis of vocal communication in mammals, and in so doing contributes to our understanding of the evolution and biological basis of human speech and language. Website


feherOlga Feher is a research fellow at the center for language evolution at the University of Edinburgh. She has done groundbreaking work in the domain cultural evolution of birdsong and language, showing how social factors influence the learning of song and language. Website


kuhlwilmMartin Kuhlwilm is a member of the Comparative genomics group at the Institute for Evolutionary Biology (CSIC/UPF) in Barcelona. His doctoral work was supervised by Svante Paabo. He has made seminal contributions in the field of paleogenomics, most recently revealing ancient gene flow from early modern humans into (Eastern) Neanderthals. Website


zilhaoJoão Zilhão is an ICREA Research professor at the University of Barcelona. He is an expert on Palaeolithic Archaeology, and has put forward thought-provoking ideas concerning the Neandertal/Modern Human Interaction in Europe. Website

Call for abstracts

Submission types



Animal cognition
Animal communication
Cognitive science
Cognitive semiotics
Computational modelling
General evolutionary theory
Genetics of language
Gesture studies
Neuroscience of language
Philosophy of biology
Philosophy of language
Pleistocene archaeology
Psychology (evolutionary, comparative, developmental)
Speech physiology


Talks and posters

Please submit an anonymous abstract of 400 words to the Easychair website, HERE.
You will have the option of submitting an abstract to be considered for a presentation, poster or either.
The file must be in .PDF format.

Talks should be suitable for 30 minutes (20 minutes for presentation/10 minutes for discussion).
Posters should be no larger than A0 size, vertical (841 x 1189 mm / 33.1 x 46.8 in).


Please submit a proposal to THIS EMAIL including: (a) Title of the mini-symposium, (b) name and affiliation of the organizers, (c) a general description (400 words), and (d) abstract of each contributed talk (100-150 words).

Submissions should be suitable for a two-hour session and include 3 to 5 presentations.
The organizers of accepted mini-symposia will also act as chairs of their session.

Extra Event – Workshop on Lenneberg

On September 29, there will be a workshop on the 50 years of Eric Lenneberg’s Biological Foundations of Language, including also a talk by Tecumseh Fitch (University of Vienna). If you are already in town for Protolang 5, stick around one extra day and join us. There is no registration fee for this event.
Submissions of abstracts are welcome. Please submit the abstract of your talk (400 words) to THIS EMAIL. Talks should be suitable for 30 minutes (20 minutes presentation/10 minutes for discussion). Make sure to send both an identified and an anonymous version.

Important dates

Submission deadline: April 20, 2017
Notifications of acceptance: June 15, 2017
Early registration deadline: July 15, 2017
Late registration deadline: September 25, 2017
Conference: September 26—28, 2017
Extra event (Workshop on Lenneberg): September 29, 2017

Registration and fees

Registration is now open, and can be done through THIS FORM.

Early registration (until July 15, 2017)

Faculty: 200€
Students: 150€

Late registration (from July 16, 2017)

Faculty: 250€
Students: 170€


If you have any questions, send us an email.


The conference will take place at the Historical Building of the University of Barcelona.
(Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 585)

Information about how to get here, as well some other details about social events, will be added here soon.

About Protolang

The Protolang conference series creates an interdisciplinary platform for scholarly discussion on the origins of symbolic communication distinctive of human beings. The thematic focus of Protolang is on delineating the genetic, anatomical, neuro- cognitive, socio-cultural, semiotic, symbolic and ecological requirements for evolving (proto)language. Sign use, tools, cooperative breeding, pointing, vozalisation, intersubjectivity, bodily mimesis, planning and navigation are among many examples of such possible factors through which hominins have gained a degree of specificity that is not found in other forms of animal communication and cognition. We aim at identifying the proximate and ultimate causes as well as the mechanisms by which these requirements evolved; evaluating the methodologies, research tools and simulation techniques; and enabling extended and vigorous exchange of ideas across disciplinary borders.We invite scholars from A(rcheology) to Z(oology), and all disciplines in between, to contribute data, experimental and theoretical research, and look forward to welcoming you at one of our conferences!

Local organizing committee

Cedric Boeckx
Pedro Tiago Martins
Constantina Theofanopoulou
Saleh Alamri
Simone Gastaldon
Thomas O’Rourke
Angela Messner

Permanent organizing committee

Slawomir Wacewicz
Luke McCrohon
Francesco Ferretti
Sverker Johansson
Nathalie Gontier
Sylwester Orzechowski
Natalie Uomini
Przemyslaw Zywiczynski
Ines Adornetti

Announcement poster (help us spread the word!)