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Histoire et Ecologie du LANgage et des LANgues

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IDEXLyon Fellow

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Personal page

Equipes : HELAN2 

  Formation et parcours professionnel
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  Activités administratives
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  Distinctions ou Financements
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  Principales publications et conférences

I was originally trained in Mathematics and Computer Science and, after working for several years in the software industry, I switched back to academia (after studies in Psychology, an MSc in Neurobiology and Behavior, and a PhD in Linguistics). This background allows me to approach the Language Sciences from an inter-disciplinary and quantitative perspective, and I mostly work on questions that involve computers, statistics and empirical data organized in large databases. For more details on my background please see my Personal Website. Google Scholar seems to keep quite an extensive track of my publications with citations, h-index and what not. Some of the software and databases I develop are on GitHub.




2004 - 2006 PhD in Linguistics: Language Evolution and Computation Research Unit, The University of Edinburgh (supervisors: Simon Kirby and Jim Hurford, awarded with no corrections)
2001 (March-Mai) SOCRATES Exchange Program: Max Planck Institute for Human Ethology, Seewiesen, Germany (supervisor: Wulf Schiefenhövel)
2000 - 2002 MSc in Neurobiology and Behaviour: Department of Biology, University of Bucharest, Romania (supervisor: Carmen Strungaru)
1996 - 1998 Undergraduate studies in Psychology: Department of Psychology, University of Bucharest, Romania
1993 - 1997 BSc in Mathematics and Computer Science: Department of Mathematics, University of Bucharest, Romania (thesis adviser: Luminiţa State)


Employment, academic positions, affiliations and editorial activity:

2018 - 2021 IDEXLyon Fellow: laboratoire Dynamique Du Langage, Université Lyon 2 and Université de Lyon, France
2018 - present Editorial board member: Linguistic Typology (De Gruyter)
2017 - 2018 EURIAS Fellow: Collegium de Lyon - Iinstitut d'Études Avancées, Université de Lyon, France
2017 - 2019 Affiliation: Language & Genetics Department, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
2016 (February) Visiting Professor: Empirical Foundations of Linguistics International Chair, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3, Pairs, France
2015 - present Executive editor (with Bart de Boer): Journal of Language Evolution (Oxford University Press)
2008 - 2012 Senior investigator and Project leader "Genetic biasing in language and speech": Language and Genetics Department, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
2011 - present Research Fellow (affiliation): Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Nijmegen
2008 - 2012 Research staff: Neurobiology of Language Department, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
2007 - 2008 ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow: Linguistics and English Language, The University of Edinburgh, UK
2007 Research Associate: Linguistics and English Language, The University of Edinburgh, UK, AHRC-funded project (April McMahon, April – June) & DTRF short grant (Jim Hurford, January – February)
1997 - 2004 Software engineer, Project manager, Technical Leader: Softwin S.R.L., Bucharest, Romania (with stages in Rennes, France; Paris, France and Vaasa, Finland)




During my academic career I have worked on several big themes, mostly concerning language origins, evolution and diversity. A non-exhaustive list of questions my work attempts to answer is:

  • How and when did arguably "modern" language evolve? Did we share it with other humans, such as the Neanderthals? What sort of empirical evidence can be used to answer these questions?
  • What are the genetic foundations of language and speech? How do they interact with the environment, and, more importantly, the cultural evolution of language?
  • How can we infer the rates of change of structural aspects of language? How do Bayesian phylogenetic methods compare with other proposals and how can we estimate this latent stability using psychometric approaches?
  • How is the variation in the infrastructure of language and speech patterned between individuals and groups? How does it affect (bias) language change and linguistic diversity?
  • In particular, how does variation in vocal tract anatomy and physiology influence phonetic and phonological cross-linguistic diversity?
  • How do linguistic complexity and robustness emerge, how are they maintained, and so they vary across languages? Is there a connection to variation in environmental conditions and speakers?




Administrative responsibilities:

2010 - 2017 The library committee (member), Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
2012 The WEB committee (temporary member), Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
2012 Online forum and wiki for statistics with R (setup & moderation), Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
2009 - 2012 Biological infrastructure of language series of meetings (co-organizer), Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
2008, 2009 Foundations of evolutionary theory reading group (co-organizer), Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands




Principal Investigator:

2018 - 2021 IDEXLyon Fellowship: Variation, Change and Complexity in Linguistic and Health-related Behaviours (V2C; approx. €1,200,000), Université de Lyon, Université Lumière Lyon 2 (Laboratoire Dynamique du Langage) & Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (Laboratoire HESPER), France
2012 - 2017 NWO Vidi grant 276-70-022: The influence of genetic biases on the evolution, universal properties and diversity of speech and language (G[ɜ]bils; €800,000), Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
2007 - 2008 ESRC UK Postdoctoral Research Fellowship PTA-026-27-1569: Non-spurious Correlations Between Genetic and Linguistic Inter-population Diversities in the Context of Human Evolution (approx. $70,000), The University of Edinburgh, UK




Grants and Awards:

2018 - 2021 IDEXLyon Fellowship, Université de Lyon, France
2017 - 2018 EURIAS Fellowship, Collegium de Lyon, France
2012 - 2017 The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) Vidi grant no. 276-70-022 "Genetic biasing in language and speech", Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
2007 - 2008 ESRC (UK) Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, The University of Edinburgh, UK
2004 - 2006 ORS (Overseas Research Students) UK Award no. 2003014001, The University of Edinburgh, UK
2004 - 2006 Studentship College of Humanities and Social Science, The University of Edinburgh, UK
2001 (March-Mai) SOCRATES Exchange Program, Max Planck Institute for Human Ethology, Seewiesen, Germany
1993 - 1997 Studentship, Department of Mathematics, University of Bucharest, Romania




Teaching, Lectures and Workshops:

2018 Lectures Sciences du Langage, Master Program in Cognitive Sciences, Université Lyon 2, France
2016 Lecture Language and speech are cool for AI, Master's Program in Artificial Intelligence, Radboud University, Nijmegen
2016 Lectures Biases in language evolution, Summer School of Linguistics, Litomyšl, Czech Republic
2016 Lectures Language, genes and evolution, Empirical Foundations of Linguistics, Université Sorbonne Nouvele Paris 3, Paris, France
2015 Lecture Language origins and evolution, Radboud Summer School, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
2014 - 2017 Lectures Genetics and evolution of language, University of Edinburgh, UK
2014 Lectures Genetics and language, LOT Summer School, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
2013 Lectures Genetics and language, LSA Summer School, Ann Arbor, USA
2013 Lectures Genetics and language, DGfS Sommerschule 2013, Berlin, Germany
2013 Lecture Nature and nurture, International Max Planck Research School, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
2011 - 2015 Lecture Genetic and linguistic diversities, Master Program in Cognitive Neurosciences, Donders Institute, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
2010, 2012, 2013 Course Introduction to statistics using R, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
2011, 2013 Lectures Language and genetics: A brief overview, University of Edinburgh, UK
2006, 2007 Lecture Genetics and human evolution, University of Edinburgh, UK
2004 - 2007 Tutorials: Linguistics 1, Statistics and Experimental Design, Psychology 1 and Psychology 2, University of Edinburgh, UK




Supervision, steering and reading committees:

2018 PhD defense committee member: W. Schueller, INRIA Bordeaux Sud-Ouest, France
2013 - 2018 PhD thesis main supervisor: R. Janssen Let the agents do the talking: On the influence of vocal tract anatomy on speech during ontogeny, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands (awarded 13/09/2018)
2017 PhD reading committee: V. Kolipakam A holistic approach to understanding pre-history, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
2017 - present PhD thesis steering committee external member: V. Kogan, PhD in Cognitive Science & Language, University of Barcelona, Spain
2016 - present PhD thesis co-supervisor: J. Collins, PhD Program, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
2015 - 2016 MSc thesis external supervisor: V. Kogan, MSc in Psychology of Language, University of Edinburgh, UK
2012 PhD defense committee: H. Xiang The language networks of the brain, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
2011, 2012, 2014 MSc thesis co-supervisor: E. Meeussen Colour blindness and its contribution to colour vocabulary, MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
2010 - 2012 PhD thesis auxiliary supervisor: V. Kolipakam, PhD program, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands



Chapitres dans les ouvrages

Devanna, P., Dediu, D. & Vernes, S., 2019, "The Genetics of Language: From complex genes to complex communication", in The Oxford Handbook of Psycholinguistics, Rueschemeyer, S.A. & Gaskell, M. (eds), 2nd, Oxford, Oxford University Press

Articles de revues

Dediu, D. & Moisik, S., 2019, "Pushes and pulls from below: Anatomical variation, articulation and sound change", Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics, 4:1, pp. 7 (doi:10.5334/gjgl.646)


Janssen, R., Moisik, S. & Dediu, D., 2019, "The effects of larynx height on vowel production are mitigated by the active control of articulators", Journal of Phonetics, 74, pp. 1-17 (doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2019.02.002)


Blasi, D., Moran, S., Moisik, S., Widmer, P., Dediu, D. & Bickel, B., 2019, "Human sound systems are shaped by post-Neolithic changes in bite configuration", Science, 363:6432, pp. eaav3218 (doi: 10.1126/science.aav3218 )


Janssen, R., Moisik, S. & Dediu, D., 2018, "Modelling human hard palate shape with Bézier curves", PLoS ONE, 13:2, pp. e0191557 (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0191557)


Bentz, C., Dediu, D., Verkerk, A. & Jäger, G., 2018, "The evolution of language families is shaped by the environment beyond neutral drift", Nature Human Behaviour, 2, pp. 816–821 (doi:10.1038/s41562-018-0457-6, full text)


Moisik, S. & Dediu, D., 2017, "Anatomical biasing and clicks: Evidence from biomechanical modeling", Journal of Language Evolution, 2:1, pp. 37-51 (doi:10.1093/jole/lzx004)


Dima, A. & Dediu, D., 2016, "Computation of Adherence to Medications and Visualization of Medication Histories in R with AdhereR: Towards Transparent and Reproducible Use of Electronic Healthcare Data", PLoS ONE, 12:4, pp. e0174426 (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0174426, AdhereR package on GitHub)


Ladd, D., Roberts, S. & Dediu, D., 2015, "Correlational studies in typological and historical linguistics", Annual Review of Linguistics, 1, pp. 221-241 (doi:10.1146/annurev-linguist-030514-124819)


Gialluisi, A., Dediu, D., Francks, C. & Fisher, S., 2013, "Persistence and transmission of recessive deafness and sign language: New insights from village sign languages", European Journal of Human Genetics, 21, pp. 894-896 (doi:10.1038/ejhg.2012.292)


Dediu, D. & Levinson, S., 2013, "On the antiquity of language: The reinterpretation of Neandertal linguistic capacities and its consequences", Frontiers in Language Sciences, 4, pp. 397 (doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00397)


Dediu, D. & Cysouw, M., 2013, "Some structural aspects of language are more stable than others: A comparison of seven methods", PLoS ONE, 8, pp. e55009 (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055009)


Dediu, D. & Levinson, S., 2012, "Abstract profiles of structural stability point to universal tendencies, family-specific factors, and ancient connections between languages", PLoS ONE, 7:9, pp. e45198 (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045198)


Dediu, D., 2011, "A Bayesian phylogenetic approach to estimating the stability of linguistic features and the genetic biasing of tone", Proceedings of the Royal Society of London/B, 278:1704, pp. 474-479 (doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.1595)


Dediu, D., 2009, "Genetic biasing through cultural transmission: Do simple Bayesian models of language evolution generalize?", Journal of Theoretical Biology, 259, pp. 552-561 (doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2009.04.004)


Dediu, D. & Ladd, D., 2007, "Linguistic tone is related to the population frequency of the adaptive haplogroups of two brain size genes, ASPM and Microcephalin", PNAS, 104, pp. 10944-10949 (doi:10.1073/pnas.0610848104)

Conférences invitées dans colloque

Dediu, D., 2017, "Plenary talk: Variation is not noise: from genetics to language change and diversity.", proc. of Conference of the Association for Linguistic Typology (ALT12), Canberra, Australia, 2017


Dediu, D., 2009-2010, "BayesLang", pp. Bayesian inference program for linguistic structural data. (Source code)


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