Protolang 2019

September 9-12, 2019, Lisbon, Portugal

The 6th edition of the Protolang conference series will take place in Lisbon, Portugal from 9 to 12 September 2019 at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Call for papers

We invite scholars from A(rcheology) to Z(oology) to contribute data, experimental and theoretical research.


The 2019 conference additionally calls out for contributions on the following 5 themes:

  1. Paleolithic Cosmologies: How Hominins conceptualized Matter, Space/Ecology, Time, Words & Numbers
  2. Defining Protolanguage and the Biological, Cognitive, and Cultural Mechanisms and Processes whereby it evolved
  3. History, Philosophy and Methodologies to Study Primate and Human Cognition, Communication & Culture
  4. Multimodal Theories in Primate Communication and (Proto)Language
  5. Modelling of Language Evolution (trees, networks, agent and population dynamics)


Roslyn M. Frank, Tania Kuteva, Rafael Núñez, Tetsuro Matsuzawa, Catherine Hobaiter, Klaus Zuberbühler, Alexandre C. Caldas


  • Evolution of language from perspectives of hierarchical complexity – Chaired by Misato Hayashi
  • Emotional and cognitive processes in communication in humans and other primates – Chaired by Augusta Gaspar & Ana Margarida Abrantes
  • Ontogeny and Evolutionary Processes – Chaired by Olga Vasileva
  • Pantolang – Chaired by Przemyslaw Żywiczynski
  • Integrated perspectives on gesture – Chaired by Isabel Galhano-Rodrigues, Anabela Cruz-Santos and Ana Mineiro
  • The Grammar of Tool Use: Converging Processes in Grammar and Compositional Tool manufacture – Chaired by Natalie Uomini and Antonella Tramacere
  • The language of Iberian rock art – Chaired by Nuno Ribeiro and Anabela Joaquinito
  • Skyscape Archaeology in the longue durée: Insights from Cultural Astronomy applied to the deep past – Chaired by Roslyn Frank, Fabio Silva, and Luís Tirapicos
  • Beyond material culture: Reconstructing the contents of paleolithic philosophies – Chaired by Nathalie Gontier
  • Language Evolution at the Crossroad between Comparative and Phylogenetic Linguistics – Chaired by Gerd Carling
  • Computational Models in Language Evolution – Chaired by Roland Mühlenbernd and Taraka Rama


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, vocalisation, 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.


Protolang 6 is organized by the Applied Evolutionary Epistemology Lab and the Primate Cognition Research Group of the Center for Philosophy of Science of the Faculty of Science of the University of Lisbon; the William James Center for Research of ISPA – University Institute of Psychological, Social and Life Sciences (ISPA – Instituto Universitário de Ciências Psicológicas, Sociais e da Vida); the Católica Research Center for Psychological, Family and Social Well-Being of the Catholic University of Lisbon (Universidade Católica Portuguesa); and the Portuguese Association for Archaeological Investigation (APIA – Associação Portuguesa de Investigação Arqueológica).

Protolang 6 is additionally sponsored by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation; the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology; FCiências.ID, the Association for the Investigation and Development of the Sciences of the Faculty of Science of the University of Lisbon; SEAC – the European Society for Astronomy in Culture; and the Philosophy of Formal Sciences, Epistemology and Methodology division of the Center for Philosophy of Science.

Deadline: February 1, 2019

Posted: January 18, 2019