Jean-louis Dessalles - Publications

    [See all papers] - [Representative Papers] - [Talks] -     See also Books:                              

Keys

SIMPLICITY:Simplicity Theory
EVOL.&LANG.:Evolutionary origins of language and of cognition
NARRATIVE:Cognitive modelling of interest in conversational narratives
ARGUMENTATION:Cognitive modelling of relevance in argumentative discussions
MEANING:Cognitive modelling of meaning
CONVERSATION:Cognitive modelling of spontaneous conversation
EMOTION:Cognitive modelling of emotional intensity
LEARNING:Cognitive modelling of concept learning
CONSCIOUSNESS:Qualia cannot be epiphenomenal (but the expl. gap is intact)
EMERGENCE:Emergence as complexity drop
EVOL.&INFORM.:Evolution and information

Selected topic: Evolutionary origins of language and of cognition


I developed several arguments to show that human communication did not emerge as a form of cooperation. I am suggesting that the biological function of human language is to display qualities that are sought after when choosing profitable coalition partners. The ability to be relevant would be a crucial quality in the particular politics of our species. The consistency of the idea is tested through mathematical modelling and computer simulation.

Regarder

Exposé aux Entretiens de la Cité 2016 "Humain" à l’Hôtel de Ville de Lyon (5 novembre 2016).
Vidéo de la présentation:    Et le langage créa l’être humain.    

Interview dans le film d’Emmanuel Leconte et Franck Guérin, diffusé sur Arte le 14.07.2015

My 68 papers about EVOL.&LANG. (but see my other papers)

  1. Dessalles, J.-L. (2014). Optimal Investment in Social Signals. Evolution, 68 (6), 1640-1650.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_13011901.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    This study is an attempt to determine how much individuals should invest in social communication, depending on the type of relationships they may form. Two simple models of social relationships are considered. In both models, individuals emit costly signals to advertise their "quality" as potential friends. Relationships are asymmetrical or symmetrical. In the asymmetrical condition (first model), we observe that low-quality individuals are discouraged from signaling. In the symmetrical condition (second model), all individuals invest in communication. In both models, high-quality individuals ("elite") do not compete and signal uniformly. The level of this uniform signal and the size of the “elite” turn out to be controlled by the accuracy of signals. The two models may be relevant to several aspects of animal and human social communication.

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  2. Dessalles, J.-L. (2014). The role of the human political singularity in the emergence of language. In E. A. Cartmill, S. Roberts, H. Lyn & H. Cornish (Eds.), The evolution of language - Proceedings of the 10th International Conference (Evolang-X - Vienna), 423-424. World Scientific.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_13120301.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
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    Slides
  3. Dessalles, J.-L. (2014). Human language: an evolutionary anomaly. In T. Heams, P. Huneman, G. Lecointre & M. Silberstein (Eds.), Handbook of Evolution Theory in the Sciences, 707-724. London, UK: Springer.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_11100601.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    Human beings devote a considerable share of their time, maybe one third of the day (Mehl & Pennebaker 2003:866), to sharing information with conspecifics about often futile but sometimes consequential topics. This behavior is unique in nature. How can we account for the existence of honest communication in a Darwinian world where individuals are inevitably in competition with each other? The task proves much harder than what was thought in the past decades. The problem should bother all scientists, and more broadly any person wondering about human nature.

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  4. Dessalles, J.-L. (2014). Why talk? In D. Dor, C. Knight & J. Lewis (Eds.), The social origins of language, 284-296. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_12031903.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    What is language good for? For a long time, the question has remained not only unanswered, but not even asked. The classic ‘reason’ invoked to avoid the issue was that language benefited the species as a whole. This way of reasoning is simply wrong (Williams 1966). If information has any value, it is in the interest of no one to give it for free. And if information has no value, why are there ears ready to listen to it? The reason why we talk, and so much, still requires a biological and social explanation.

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  5. Dessalles, J.-L. (2014). Comment nous optimisons nos signaux sociaux. La Recherche, 494, 56-59.
    http://perso.telecom-paristech.fr/jld/presse/#Pepe
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    De nombreux comportements humains n’ont pas pour effet de procurer un bénéfice immédiat. Alors quel est leur rôle ? Attirer les amitiés, à l’image de ce que l’on peut observer dans les réseaux sociaux numériques.

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    Papier sur le site de "La Recherche"
  6. Dessalles, J.-L. (2013). Du protolangage au langage : modèle d'une transition. In B. Fracchiolla (Ed.), Les origines du langage et des langues Paris: L'Harmattan.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_03071803.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG. MEANING
    L'existence des capacités syntaxiques qui permettent aux êtres humains de manier des langues complexes reste mystérieuse. Pour certains auteurs, ces capacités seraient apparues totalement par hasard au cours de l'évolution et leur application à la communication serait fortuite. Nous essayons ici de montrer comment la modélisation de l'interface syntaxe-sémantique permet d'envisager un tout autre scénario. L'aptitude à manier des structures syntaxiques serait apparue en deux temps et serait liée à une nouvelle capacité sémantique, la formation des prédicats. La récursivité serait apparue lors de la deuxième étape, comme un moyen de lier les prédicats entre eux pour permettre la détermination de leurs arguments.

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  7. Dessalles, J.-L. (2011). Pragmatics and evolution. In P. C. Hogan (Ed.), The Cambridge encyclopedia of the language sciences, 649-651. Cambridge University Press.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_06111202.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG. CONVERSATION
    For at least 100 000 years, human beings have been talking the way we do. Language is universally used by most individuals in every culture several hours each day, primarily during conversational chatter (Dunbar 1998). How did our species come to adopt such a strange behavior in the course of its evolution? The question has been considered in turn as obvious and baffling. A proper approach to the reasons why we talk requires that the biological function of language be understood, and pragmatics is the right place to seek out that function.

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  8. Dessalles, J.-L. (2011). Review of: "The evolution of human language: Biolinguistic perspectives" (R. Larson et al., CUP, 2010). Language, 87 (2), 411-414.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_14051501.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    Where does human language come from? The ‘greatest problem in science’, according to Bickerton (2009), remains a mystery. This new volume offers a partial but important map of current ideas on the problem. The book is stimulating because of the issues it raises and surprising in the issues it ignores.

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  9. Dessalles, J.-L. (2011). Parler pour exister. Sciences humaines, 224, 45-47.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_11010601.pdf
    Keywords: NARRATIVE EVOL.&LANG.
    Le langage ne vise pas seulement à transmettre des informations utiles. Il sert aussi à se mettre en valeur en racontant de bonnes histoires qui doivent répondre à des caractéristiques très précises.

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  10. Dessalles, J.-L. (2011). The real mystery about language - Comment on 'Modeling The Cultural Evolution of Language' by Luc Steels. Physics of life reviews, 8 (4), 369-370.
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.plrev.2011.10.010
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    Human communication involves a huge cost. Conversation takes up about one third of our awake time; children must learn ten new words a day during ten years; getting first-hand information is time-consuming and may involve risks; and we need to support disproportionate brains to store episodes worth telling during verbal interactions. Why are we (apparently) the only species that shows this behavior, in apparent contradiction with Darwinian principles? This is the real mystery about language.

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  11. Dessalles, J.-L. (2011). Reasoning as a lie detection device (Commentary on Mercier and Sperber:'Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory'). Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 34 (2), 76-77.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_10091501.pdf
    Keywords: ARGUMENTATION EVOL.&LANG.
    The biological function of human reasoning abilities cannot be to improve shared knowledge. This is at best a side effect. A more plausible function of argumentation, and thus of reasoning, is to advertise one's ability to detect lies and errors. Such selfish behavior iscloser to what we should expect from a naturally selected competence.

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  12. Dessalles, J.-L., Machery, E., McKenzie Alexander, J. & Cowie, F. (2010). Symposium on J.-L. Dessalles's Why we Talk. Biology and philosophy, 25 (5), 851-901.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_09061401.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    This symposium discusses J.-L. Dessalles's account of the evolution of language, which was presented in Why we Talk (Oxford Univ. Press 2007).

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  13. Dessalles, J.-L. (2010). Providing information can be a stable non-cooperative evolutionary strategy. Paris: Technical Report Telecom ParisTech 2010D025.
    http://service.tsi.telecom-paristech.fr/cgi-bin/valipub_download.cgi?dId=223
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    Human language is still an embarrassment for evolutionary theory, as the speaker's benefit remains unclear. The willingness to communicate information is shown here to be an evolutionary stable strategy (ESS), even if acquiring original information from the environment involves significant cost and communicating it provides no material benefit to addressees. In this study, communication is used to advertise the emitter's ability to obtain novel information. We found that communication strategies can take two forms, competitive and uniform, that these two strategies are stable and that they necessarily coexist.

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  14. Dessalles, J.-L. (2010). Have you anything unexpected to say? The human propensity to communicate surprise and its role in the emergence of language. In A. D. M. Smith, M. Schouwstra, B. de Boer & K. Smith (Eds.), The evolution of language - Proceedings of the 8th International Conference (Evolang8 - Utrecht), 99-106. Singapore: World Scientific.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_10012804.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG. SIMPLICITY
    Individuals devote one third of their language time to mentioning unexpected events. We try to make sense of this universal behaviour within the Costly Signalling framework. By systematically using language to point to the unexpected, individuals send a signal that advertises their ability to anticipate danger. This shift in display behaviour, as compared with typical displays in primate species, may result from the use by hominins of artefacts to kill.

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  15. Dessalles, J.-L. (2010). Et si la coopération était un mythe ? Un pilier des sciences sociales ébranlé par la simulation. Nouvelles perspectives en sciences sociales, 5 (2), 79-89.
    http://www.erudit.org/revue/npss/2010/v5/n2/index.html
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    La coopération est l'un des piliers, voire un axiome, des sciences sociales. Elle seule permet à des individus non apparentés de vivre ensemble. Même la guerre, sorte d'autodestruction des sociétés, repose sur une coopération efficace. Et, pour prendre un exemple que je connais bien, le langage est présenté aux étudiants comme un cas emblématique de coopération, consistant en un échange d'informations. C'est pourtant à propos du langage que j'ai eu mes premiers doutes. J'ai alors tenté de m'attaquer au pilier, armé du canif des modélisateurs, la simulation.

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  16. Dessalles, J.-L. (2010). From metonymy to syntax in the communication of events. In M. A. Arbib & D. Bickerton (Eds.), The emergence of protolanguage - Holophrasis vs compositionality, 51-65. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Comp.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_07011503.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    Language, from its early hominin origin to now, was not primarily being used for practical purposes. We suggest that an essential function of protolanguage was to signal 'noteworthy' events, as humans still systematically do. Words could not be so specific as to refer to whole, non-recurring, situations. They referred to elements such as objects or locations, and the communicated event was inferred metonymically. Compositionality was achieved, without syntax, through multi-metonymy, as words referring to elements of the same situation were concatenated into proto-utterances.

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  17. Dessalles, J.-L. (2010). Comment le langage est venu à l'homme. La Recherche, 445, 64-65.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/presse/Dessalles_10100801.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    Dans son dernier livre, le linguiste Derek Bickerton s'attaque à ce qu'il qualifie de "plus grande énigme de la science": l'origine du langage. Une faculté humaine radicalement différente de la communication animale, comme l'explique l'extrait présenté ici en avant-première.

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  18. Dessalles, J.-L. (2010). Préface. In D. Bickerton (Ed.), La langue d'Adam, v-ix. Paris: Dunod.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_10100803.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    Certains chercheurs, probablement la vaste majorité, restent d’une grande prudence lorsqu’ils expriment leurs idées. Derek Bickerton n’est certainement pas de ceux-là. La prudence scientifique est un moyen de ne pas trop heurter la pensée, souvent contradictoire, des collègues. C’est aussi un moyen de ne pas prendre de risques, de ne pas se voir reprocher plus tard que l’on s’est trompé. Les demi-teintes, les nuances et les compromis conceptuels ne font pas partie du monde de Derek Bickerton. Dans ses écrits comme lors de ses interventions publiques, il montre une fougue et une prise de risque que nombre de jeunes chercheurs pourraient lui envier. Bickerton nous dit : « Voilà comment le langage humain a émergé ! ». Il nous dit même : « Pour la première fois, quelqu’un va vous dire comment le langage a émergé ». Il ne s’agit pas d’immodestie. Il s’agit de passion. Cette passion, il nous la communique, pour notre plus grand plaisir.

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  19. Dessalles, J.-L. (2010). L'émergence du langage au cours de l'évolution. In M. Banniard & D. Philps (Eds.), La fabrique du signe - Linguistique de l'émergence, 22-33. Toulouse: Presses Universitaires du Mirail.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_10102801.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    Nous défendons ici l'idée que le langage humain est né d'une compétition inédite dans le monde animal, la compétition informationnelle. De nombreux aspects de notre mode de communication, notamment sa modalité essentiellement orale, ses lexiques pléthoriques, son caractère déplacé (hors du ‘ici et maintenant'), son mode dialogique, toutes choses parfaitement mystérieuses autrement, trouvent une explication dans le fait que les locuteurs sont engagés dans une compétition communicationnelle de laquelle les gagnants retirent un bénéfice social. Cette explication de l'émergence du langage ne se limite pas à imaginer un intérêt pour l'auditeur, mais également pour le locuteur. Elle est donc recevable dans un cadre darwinien.

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  20. Dessalles, J.-L. (2009). Why we talk - The evolutionary origins of language (2nd edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    Why do human beings tirelessly strive to provide information to conspecifics? Human language seems to benefit listeners more than speakers. It seems to be an exception in a Darwinian world in which organisms are primarily concerned with their own survival.
        BibTeX
    Get the book
  21. Dessalles, J.-L. (2009). Une anomalie de l'évolution : le langage. In T. Heams, P. Huneman, G. Lecointre & M. Silberstein (Eds.), Les mondes darwiniens - L'évolution de l'évolution, 863-882. Paris: Editions Syllepse.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_09010801.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    Les être humains, dans leur milieu naturel, utilisent le langage pour bavarder. C'est lors de ce comportement étrange et faussement futile qu'ils constituent leur réseau social. Je montre comment cette fonction permet d'expliquer l'existence du langage dans un cadre darwinien. Je montre également pourquoi d'autres modèles, proposés dans le passé, échouent face aux contraintes darwiniennes

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  22. Dessalles, J.-L. (2008). Why is language well designed for communication? (Commentary on Christiansen and Chater: 'Language as shaped by the brain'). Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 31 (5), 518-519.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_08041101.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    Selection through iterated learning explains no more than other non-functional accounts, such as universal grammar, why language is so well-designed for communicative efficiency. It does not predict several distinctive features of language like central embedding, large lexicons or the lack of iconicity, that seem to serve communication purposes at the expense of learnability.

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  23. Dessalles, J.-L. (2008). From metonymy to syntax in the communication of events. Interaction Studies, 9 (1), 51-65.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_07011503.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    Language, from its early hominin origin to now, was not primarily being used for practical purposes. We suggest that an essential function of protolanguage was to signal ‘noteworthy' events, as humans still systematically do. Words could not be so specific as to refer to whole, non-recurring, situations. They referred to elements such as objects or locations, and the communicated event was inferred metonymically. Compositionality was achieved, without syntax, through multi-metonymy, as words referring to elements of the same situation were concatenated into proto-utterances.

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  24. Dessalles, J.-L. (2008). L'altruisme, enfant de la guerre ? Cerveau & Psycho, 26, 24-28.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_08010902.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    Homo homini lupus, l’être humain est un loup pour ses semblables. En même temps, homo sapiens est la seule espèce dont les membres rendent systématiquement des services à leurs congénères non apparentés. Les populations humaines sont-elles un mélange nécessaire où cohabitent les individus agressifs et les altruistes ? Si l’on en croit une étude récente (Choi & Bowles 2007), les agressifs et les altruistes pourraient être les mêmes personnes !

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  25. Dessalles, J.-L. (2008). Spontaneous narrative behaviour in homo sapiens: how does it benefit to speakers? In A. D. M. Smith, K. Smith & R. Ferrer i Cancho (Eds.), The evolution of language - Proceedings of the 7th International Conference (Evolang7 - Barcelona), 91-98. Singapore: World Scientific.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_07091501.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG. NARRATIVE
    The fact that human beings universally put much energy and conviction in reporting events in daily conversations demands an explanation. After having observed that the selection of reportable events is based on unexpectedness and emotion, we make a few suggestions to show how the existence of narrative behaviour can be consistent with the socio-political theory of the origin of language.

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  26. Dessalles, J.-L. (2007). Why we talk - The evolutionary origins of language (English edition of 'Aux origines du langage'). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/WWT/
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    Why do human beings tirelessly strive to provide information to conspecifics? Human language seems to benefit listeners more than speakers. It seems to be an exception in a Darwinian world in which organisms are primarily concerned with their own survival.

    Download a PDF version of this paper     BibTeX
    Get the book
  27. Dessalles, J.-L. (2007). Storing events to retell them (Commentary on Suddendorf and Corballis: 'The evolution of foresight'). Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 30 (3), 321-322.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_07051403.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG. NARRATIVE
    Episodic memory is certainly a unique endowment, but its primary purpose is something other than to provide raw material for creative synthesis of future scenarios. Remembered episodes are exactly those which are worth telling. The function of episodic memory, in our view, is to accumulate stories that are relevant to recount in conversation.

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  28. Dessalles, J.-L. (2007). Humans and apes make friends differently: Implications for the evolutionary emergence of language. In P. M. Kappeler & M. Schwibbe (Eds.), Primate Behavior and human universals - Abstracts of the 6th Göttinger Freilandtage, 24-25. Göttingen: Primate Report.
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.     BibTeX
  29. Dessalles, J.-L. (2006). From protolanguage to language: model of a transition. Marges linguistiques, 11, 142-152.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_06052701.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    The existence of syntactic abilities allowing human beings to process complex languages remains mysterious. According to some authors, these abilities appeared by mere chance at some point in evolution, and their use in communication is, in some way, fortuitous. We try here to show how a simple model of the syntax-semantic interface allows us to consider a quite different scenario. The ability to process syntactic structures would have appeared in a two-step evolutionary process and would be the consequence of a new semantic ability, the ability to form predicates. Recursion is claimed to have appeared in the second step, as a way to link predicates for their arguments to be determined.

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  30. Dessalles, J.-L. (2006). Ethologie du langage. In J.-L. Dessalles, P. Picq & B. Victorri (Eds.), Les origines du langage, 125-176. Paris: Editions Le Pommier.
    mailto:ask@dessalles.fr?subject=Paper request&body=Please send me [Ethologie du langage] (06050702)
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    Get a PDF version of this paper.     BibTeX
  31. Dessalles, J.-L. (2006). Le langage humain à la lumière de l'évolution. JEP 2006: Actes des XXVIes journées d'étude sur la parole, 17-23. Dinard, France: AFCP - IRISA - ISCA.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_06050802.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    This paper explores a few consequences of the hypothesis that language evolved for the benefit of speakers. The hypothesis, supported by recent Darwinian scenarios of language emergence, explains why speech production organs were dramatically transformed through evolution, while auditory systems remained practically unchanged. It also explains the need for huge vocabularies and for large episodic memory, and it dismisses the possibility of gesture-first scenarios of language origins.

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  32. Dessalles, J.-L. (2006). Du protolangage au langage : modèle d'une transition. Marges linguistiques, 11, 142-152.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_03071803.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    L'existence des capacités syntaxiques qui permettent aux êtres humains de manier des langues complexes reste mystérieuse. Pour certains auteurs, ces capacités seraient apparues totalement par hasard au cours de l'évolution et leur application à la communication serait fortuite. Nous essayons ici de montrer comment la modélisation de l'interface syntaxe-sémantique permet d'envisager un tout autre scénario. L'aptitude à manier des structures syntaxiques serait apparue en deux temps et serait liée à une nouvelle capacité sémantique, la formation des prédicats. La récursivité serait apparue lors de la deuxième étape, comme un moyen de lier les prédicats entre eux pour permettre la détermination de leurs arguments.

    Télécharger une version PDF de cet article     BibTeX
  33. Dessalles, J.-L. (2006). Human language in the light of evolution. JEP 2006: Actes des XXVIes journées d'étude sur la parole, 17-23. Dinard, France: AFCP - IRISA - ISCA.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_06072301.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    This paper explores a few consequences of the hypothesis that language evolved for the benefit of speakers. The hypothesis, supported by recent Darwinian scenarios of language emergence, explains why speech production organs were dramatically transformed through evolution, while auditory systems remained practically unchanged. It also explains the need for huge vocabularies and for large episodic memory, and it dismisses the possibility of gesture-first scenarios of language origins.

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  34. Dessalles, J.-L. (2006). Generalised signalling: a possible solution to the paradox of language. In A. Cangelosi, A. D. M. Smith & K. Smith (Eds.), The evolution of language - Proceedings of the 6th International Conference (Evolang6), 75-82. Singapore: World Scientific.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_05112301.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    The systematic and universal communicative behaviour that drives human beings to give honest information to conspecifics during long-lasting conversational episodes still represents a Darwinian paradox. Attempts to solve it by comparing conversation with a mere reciprocal cooperative information exchange is at odds with the reality of spontaneous language use. The Costly Signalling Theory has recently attracted attention as a tentative explanation of the evolutionary stability of language. Unfortunately, it makes the wrong prediction that only elite individuals would talk. I show that as far as social bonding is assortative in our species, generalised signalling through language becomes a viable strategy to attract allies.

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  35. Dessalles, J.-L., Picq, P. & Victorri, B. (2006). Les origines du langage. Paris: Editions Le Pommier.
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    Comment le langage est-il apparu ? Certes pas parce qu'il fallait que l'on parle... L'éthologie, la paléoanthropologie, la linguistique, servent ici de guides précieux dans une véritable enquête qui nous mène sur les traces des premiers humains. Existe-t-il des méthodes qui nous permettraient de reconstituer une éventuelle 'langue mère' ? Comment un 'protolangage' se serait-il complexifié pour d'atteindre l'immense sophistication de nos langues actuelles ? Le langage, universel dans notre espèce et exception dans le règne animal, constituerait-il une anomalie de l'évolution ? Les rôles joués par le langage et l'avantage évolutif qu'ils induisent seraient une des clés permettant de répondre à ces questions.
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    Accès au livre
  36. Dessalles, J.-L. (2005). Communication among selfish agents: From cooperation to display. Proceedings of the 3rd Lake Arrowhead Conference on Human Complex Systems Los Angeles: University of California Los Angeles.
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.     BibTeX
  37. Dessalles, J.-L. & Ghadakpour, L. (2005). Semantic abilities evolved as well - Electronic commentary on M. Arbib: 'From monkey-like action recognition to human language. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 28 (2).
    http://www.bbsonline.org/Preprints/Arbib-05012002/Supplemental/Dessalles.html
    Keywords: MEANING EVOL.&LANG.
    The evolutionary story proposed in the target paper makes no difference between semantic representations underlying language and more general cognitive representations, at work in perception and action, which humans share with apes and probably other mammals. Though semantic representations supporting language are grounded in perception, some of them, specifically predicative structures, should rather be considered a distinctive feature of human communication system. Any evolutionary scenario about language should explain how human minds evolved to form the kind of thoughts that are communicated through language.

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  38. Dessalles, J.-L. (2005). Criteria for coalition formation. Proceedings of the European Conference on Complex Systems (ECCS-05), 189-190. Paris: .
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.     BibTeX
  39. Dessalles, J.-L. (2005). Aux sources du langage. Sciences humaines, (1), 44-49.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/presse/05112304.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
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  40. Dessalles, J.-L. (2004). Language as an isolated niche. Abstracts of the International Conference on the Evolution of Language, 10. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
    http://www.ling.ed.ac.uk/evolang/2004/ABSTRACTS/PLENARIES/dessalles.doc
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
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  41. Dessalles, J.-L. (2004). More syntax, less inference - Commentary on G. Origgi and D. Sperber: 'A pragmatic perspective on the evolution of language and languages. Coevolution of Language and Theory of Mind Interdisciplines: electronic conference.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_04041502.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
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  42. Clarini, J., Dessalles, J.-L., Dortier, J.-F. & Kaplan, F. (2004). Débat sur 'Les origines du langage. France Culture - 24.02.2004.
    http://www.radiofrance.fr/chaines/france-culture2/emissions/science_culture/fiche.php?diffusion_id=19458
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
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  43. Dessalles, J.-L. (2004). About the adaptiveness of syntactic recursion - Commentary on F. Newmeyer: 'Cognitive and functional factors in the evolution of grammar'. Coevolution of Language and Theory of Mind Interdisciplines: electronic conference.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_04041504.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    Recursion has a function: it gives a new role to predicates. The main predicate in a sentence expresses a thought for argumentative purposes. The main predicate is what is really meant, what is offered to the addressees' critique (in the case of argumentation) or to their appraisal (in the case of event report). Thanks to recursion, other predicates can be introduced to determine arguments. They help addressees determine what x refers to in the scene.

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  44. Dessalles, J.-L. (2003). Les beaux parleurs : un paradoxe de l'évolution. Cerveau & Psycho, 4, 16-17.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_04011402.html
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
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  45. Dessalles, J.-L. (2003). Non-kin altruism and the evolutionary emergence of human language. Abstracts of the Conference 'Human Biology: an Evolutionary Perspective Montpellier: Université de Montpellier 2.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_04073005.html
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
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  46. Fléaux, R. & Dessalles, J.-L. (2002). Nous parlons car nous sommes une espèce politique - Interview. Sciences et Avenir, 662, 107.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/presse/sciences-et-avenir.html
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
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  47. Dessalles, J.-L. (2002). Coalition factor in the evolution of non-kin altruism. In F. Schweitzer (Ed.), Modeling Complexity in Economic and Social Systems, 323-353. Singapour: World Scientific.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_04011902.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    Animal behavior is often altruistic. In the frame of the theory of natural selection, altruism can only exist under specific conditions like kin selection or reciprocal cooperation. We show that reciprocal cooperation, which is generally invoked to explain non-kin altruism, requires very restrictive conditions to be stable. Some of these conditions are not met in many cases of altruism observed in nature. In search of another explanation of non-kin altruism, we consider Zahavis's theory of prestige. We extend it to propose a ‘political' model of altruism. We give evidence showing that non-kin altruism can evolve in the context of inter-subgroup competition. Under such circumstances, altruistic behavior can be used by individuals to advertise their quality as efficient coalition members. In this model, only abilities which positively correlate with the subgroup success can evolve into altruistic behaviors.

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  48. Dessalles, J.-L. & Ghadakpour, L. (2002). The co-evolution of language and friendship. Abstracts of the International Conference on the Evolution of Language, 37. Cambridge, MA: University of Harvard.
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.     BibTeX
  49. Hurford, J. R. & Dessalles, J.-L. (2002). The problematic transition from specific competences to general competence - Commentary on Peter Carruthers: 'The cognitive functions of language. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 25 (6), 690-691.
    http://www.journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=172607
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG. MEANING
    Postulating a variety of mutually isolated thought domains for pre-linguistic creatures is both unparsimonious and implausible, requiring unexplained parallel evolution of each separate module. Furthermore, the proposal that domain-general concepts are not accessible without prior exposure to phonetically realized human language utterances cannot be implemented by any concept-acquisition mechanism.

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  50. Dessalles, J.-L. (2001). Qualia and spandrels: an engineering perspective. Paris: Technical Report ENST 2001-D-012.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_01082301.pdf
    Keywords: CONSCIOUSNESS EVOL.&LANG.
    A number of concepts are included in the term 'consciousness'. We choose to concentrate here on phenomenal consciousness, the process through which we are able to experience aspects of our environment or of our physical state. We probably share this aspect of consciousness with many animals which, like us, feel pain or pleasure and experience colours, sounds, flavours, etc. Since phenomenal consciousness is a feature of some living species, we should be able to account for it in terms of natural selection. Does it have an adaptive function, or is it an epiphenomenon ? We shall give arguments to reject the second alternative. We propose that phenomenal properties of consciousness are involved in a labelling process that allows us to discriminate and to evaluate mental representations. We also discuss to what extent consciousness as such has been selected for this labelling function.

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  51. Levisalles, N. & Dessalles, J.-L. (2001). Nous parlons car nous sommes une espèce politique - Interview. Libération, , 21/07/2001.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/presse/libe/20010721.html
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
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  52. Dessalles, J.-L. (2001). The role of language in the formation of large coalitions. In M. Hausberger (Ed.), Abstracts of the Conference 'Social Life and Communication: An Element of Understanding in the Evolution of Language ?, 33-34. Rennes: Université de Rennes 1.
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.     BibTeX
  53. Dessalles, J.-L. (2001). L'origine politique du langage. La Recherche, 341, 31-35.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_01040902.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    Comme toutes les caractéristiques physiques et toutes les dispositions comportementales universelles de notre espèce, la capacité de langage est un produit de la sélection naturelle. Quel avantage particulier a-t-elle procuré à nos ancêtres pour qu'ils se mettent à parler ?

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  54. Dessalles, J.-L. (2000). Two stages in the evolution of language use. In J.-L. Dessalles & L. Ghadakpour (Eds.), Proceedings of the International Conference on the Evolution of Language, 77-80. Paris: ENST.
    http://www.infres.enst.fr/confs/evolang/actes/_actes21.html
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    The study of language use, usually called pragmatics, reveals that the competence of speakers is not monolithic. It can be split into two quite distinct behaviors. The first one deals with salient events; the second one deals with problematic situations. We claim that the second ability emerged long after the first one in hominid evolutionary history. A consistent scenario is that communication about salient events is what the protolanguage hypothesized by Bickerton (1990) was used for. The detection and collective processing of problematic situations can be understood as an additional ability which gave rise to modern language.

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  55. Dessalles, J.-L. (2000). Evolution et cognition - Actes de la journée scientifique de l'Association pour la Recherche Cognitive. Paris: ENST.
    http://www.infres.enst.fr/confs/evolang/ARCo/
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
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  56. Dessalles, J.-L. & Ghadakpour, L. (2000). Proceedings of the International Conference on the Evolution of Language. Paris: ENST.
    http://www.infres.enst.fr/confs/evolang/actes/
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
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  57. Dessalles, J.-L. (2000). Aux origines du langage : Une histoire naturelle de la parole. Paris: Hermes Science.
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    La capacité de langage est souvent présentée comme l’aboutissement inévitable d’une évolution qui va de l’amibe à l’homme. En acquerrant les prédispositions nécessaires à l’usage de la parole, notre espèce aurait simplement franchi une étape supplémentaire. Pourtant, ce comportement auquel nous consacrons une part significative de notre temps éveillé est, par bien des aspects, différent de la communication animale. En reliant la structure de chaque composante du langage (phonologie, syntaxe, sémantique, pragmatique) à ses possibles fonctions, l’auteur révèle un paradoxe : pourquoi les être humains cherchent-ils inlassablement à fournir des informations à leurs congénères ? Le comportement langagier semble faire exception à la théorie darwinienne, qui prévoit que les organismes se préoccupent avant tout de leur propre survie. Pour résoudre ce paradoxe, l’auteur nous demande de remonter aux origines du langage. Il en vient à l’idée que l’émergence de notre manière de communiquer est liée au mode d’organisation particulier des groupes humains. Les premières formes de langage seraient apparues, chez les hominidés, comme un moyen pour les individus de se choisir afin de former des coalitions. Ainsi, loin de résulter d’une tendance évolutive générale, l’apparition du langage serait une conséquence de l’organisation sociale singulière de notre espèce.
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  58. Dessalles, J.-L. (2000). Le protolangage : un portrait robot de la communication de nos ancêtres. In J.-L. Dessalles (Ed.), Evolution et cognition - Actes de la journée scientifique de l'Association pour la Recherche Cognitive, 19-24. Paris: ENST.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_00122703.html
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
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  59. Dessalles, J.-L. (2000). Language and hominid politics. In C. Knight, M. Studdert-Kennedy & J. R. Hurford (Eds.), The evolutionary emergence of language: social function and the origins of linguistic form, 62-79. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_99012906.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    Language is the main distinctive feature of our species. Why do we feel the urge to communicate with our fellows, and why is this form of communication, characterised by relevance, unique in animal kingdom ? In this chapter, we will first stress this specificity of human communication. In a second part, using computer evolutionary simulations, we will dismiss the usual claim that human communication is a specific form of reciprocal cooperation. A Darwinian account of language requires that we find a selective advantage in the communication act. We will propose, in the third part of this chapter, that such an advantage can be found if we consider language activity in the broader frame of human social organisation. In the continuation of the ‘chimpanzee politics' studied by de Waal (1982), the ability to form large coalitions must have been an essential feature of hominid societies (Dunbar 1996). We will suggest that relevant speech originated in this context, as a way for individuals to select each other to form alliances.

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  60. Dessalles, J.-L. (2000). La langue d'homo erectus. Sciences et Avenir hors-série, 125, 16-21.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/00122802.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
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  61. Dessalles, J.-L. (1999). Coalition factor in the evolution of non-kin altruism. Advances in Complex Systems, 2 (2), 143-172.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_99091402.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    Animal behavior is often altruistic. In the frame of the theory of natural selection, altruism can only exist under specific conditions like kin selection or reciprocal cooperation. We show that reciprocal cooperation, which is generally invoked to explain non-kin altruism, requires very restrictive conditions to be stable. Some of these conditions are not met in many cases of altruism observed in nature. In search of another explanation of non-kin altruism, we consider Zahavis's theory of prestige. We extend it to propose a 'political' model of altruism. We give evidence showing that non-kin altruism can evolve in the context of inter-subgroup competition. Under such circumstances, altruistic behavior can be used by individuals to advertise their quality as efficient coalition members. In this model, only abilities which positively correlate with the subgroup success can evolve into altruistic behaviors.

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  62. Dessalles, J.-L. (1998). Altruism, status, and the origin of relevance. In J. R. Hurford, M. Studdert-Kennedy & C. Knight (Eds.), Approaches to the evolution of language: Social and cognitive bases, 130-147. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_96122602.pdf
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
    We deal here with the problem of the origin of language from the point of view of pragmatics. Our aim is to show that any scenario of language origin should explain the relevance phenomenon. Why do people feel obliged to be relevant in casual conversation ? Analysing the structure of relevance leads to unexpected conclusions : relevant information is valuable, therefore language seems to be altruistic. As a consequence, from a Darwinian perspective, speakers should be rare and continually prompted for their knowledge. What we observe, however, is the exact opposite : in many situations, speakers repeatedly strive to make their point, while listeners systematically evaluate what they hear. A possible solution to this paradox is that language is not altruistic and that relevant information is traded for status. The observation of spontaneous conversation provides some evidence that supports such a hypothesis.

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  63. Dessalles, J.-L. & Zalla, T. (1998). On the evolution of phenomenal consciousness. Paris: Technical Report ENST-98-D-001.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_98072405.pdf
    Keywords: CONSCIOUSNESS EVOL.&LANG.
    A number of concepts are included in the term 'consciousness'. We choose to concentrate here on phenomenal consciousness, the process through which we are able to experience aspects of our environment or of our physical state. We probably share this aspect of consciousness with many animals which, like us, feel pain or pleasure and experience colours, sounds, flavours, etc. Since phenomenal consciousness is a feature of some living species, we should be able to account for it in terms of natural selection. Does it have an adaptive function, or is it an epiphenomenon ? We shall give arguments to reject the second alternative. We propose that phenomenal properties of consciousness are involved in a labelling process that allows us to discriminate and to evaluate mental representations. We also discuss to what extent consciousness as such has been selected for this labelling function.

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  64. Dessalles, J.-L. (1998). Linguistic relevance in hominid politics. In C. Knight (Ed.), Abstracts of the International Conference on the Evolution of Language, 30. London: University of East London.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_98032101.html
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
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  65. Dessalles, J.-L. & Zalla, T. (1998). Phenomenal consciousness as phenotype. In T. Metzinger (Ed.), Abstracts of the Conference 'Neural Correlates of Consciousness, 19-20. Bremen: Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_98022804.html
    Keywords: CONSCIOUSNESS EVOL.&LANG.
    The question of the epiphenomenality of consciousness can be addressed from an evolutionary perspective. If phenomenal consciousness is not an evolutionary epiphenomenon, but is it part of our phenotype, we should conclude that consciousness is not a functional or neuronal epiphenomenon.

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  66. Dessalles, J.-L. (1996). Genetic constraints on the evolution of human communication. In J. R. Hurford (Ed.), Abstracts of the International Conference on the Evolution of Language, 18. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_96033118.html
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
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  67. Dessalles, J.-L. (1995). Contraintes sur l'évolution naturelle de la communication. In G. Theraulaz, J.-L. Dessalles, T. Fuhs & J. Stewart (Eds.), Evolution et organisation: hasard et contraintes dans la genèse des formes collectives - Actes des journées de Rochebrune, 113-118. Paris: ENST.
    http://www.dessalles.fr/papers/Dessalles_95032105.html
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.
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  68. Dessalles, J.-L. (). Le protolangage : de quoi les hominidés parlaient-ils ? à paraître .
    Keywords: EVOL.&LANG.     BibTeX

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