CE27 - Culture, créations, patrimoine

The role of linguistic and non-linguistic factors in the evolution of nominal classification systems – EVOGRAM

Submission summary

Categorization is one the most frequent tasks realized by humans during their life, as elements and experience encountered need to be categorized to be efficiently stored and retrieved within the human brain. Such need is reflected in language via various mechanisms such as grammatical gender (e.g., the masculine/feminine distinction in French), noun classes (e.g., the semantic-based classification in Swahili), and sortal classifiers (e.g., the mostly shape-based classification of referents in Mandarin Chinese). Numerous hypotheses have been formulated with regard to the evolution of such systems, suggesting the influence of other linguistic systems in a language, along with its sociocultural and natural environment. Few of these hypotheses have been tested with quantitative data. This project fills this gap by providing open-access quantitative data and a computational-based methodological framework of triangulation for evaluating the robustness of the effect of linguistic and non-linguistic factors on the emergence and evolution of nominal classification systems in the grammatical structures of the world’s languages.

Project coordination

Marc TANG (Laboratoire Eco-Anthropologie)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


EAE-UMR 7206 Laboratoire Eco-Anthropologie

Help of the ANR 166,934 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 24 Months

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