Love words, deaf dialogues, counter briefs, boudoir talk, negotiations, alexandrines, speeches...

One of the most spectacular adaptations that have appeared in the course of human evolution is undoubtedly the ability to express oneself and communicate through oral language.

This characteristic of Homo sapiens, brought to a level of complexity unparalleled in the animal kingdom, can be considered a major evolutionary achievement if we refer to the number of different sounds our species manages to produce, the almost infinite combinations of syllables and words they can form, the bewildering quantity of concepts (useful as well as futile) they allow to be exposed in hundreds of distinct idioms, or the role of speech as a lubricant and social organizer.

At the same time, it is striking how language, which we use every day, even if only to say nothing, is basically a little-known faculty, especially from the point of view of its evolutionary origin or the biological and neurological conditions that are necessary for its application. The National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Evolving Language, which has officially started on 1 June this year, intends to fill some of these gaps. Co-directed by the Universities of Geneva and Zurich, this vast scientific programme, which is financed for four, and probably eight years by the National Science Foundation (SNSF), will bring together research groups active in fields as diverse as linguistics, philosophy, ethics, biology, neuroscience, psychology and computer science.

To read the full Interview with Anne-Lise Giraud, Professor at the Department of Fundamental Neurosciences, based at Campus Biotech, please visit the following link.