Zoom-only Colloquium, Wednesday at 4 p.m.: The Evolution of Language

Frederick Coolidge

On Wednesday, April 1, at 4 p.m., Frederick Coolidge of the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, will give a Zoom-only Colloquium talk titled “The Evolution of Language.” Zoom information is below.

While the presence of different languages throughout the world is undeniable, the origin of language and its evolution is highly contentious. In part, the problem is that unlike fossils, languages, especially unwritten languages, do not preserve. There is virtually no evidence of their nature: This means that we do not know what these languages sounded like. For example, did they sing to express their thoughts, did they whistle, did they use gestures while they spoke, or gestures alone? Another major problem with understanding how languages got their start is that the single most influential linguist in the last seven decades, Noam Chomsky, claims language did not evolve but appeared suddenly by one gene in one person 100,000 years ago. The talk explains why Chomsky is wrong, how language did evolve, why people speak, and why the most popular topic in all the world’s cultures is gossip.

Coolidge started at UCCS in 1979. He was chair of the Department of Psychology from 1986-1989 and served as the clinical director from 1981-84. He is a three-time Fulbright Fellowship Award recipient and has received three teaching awards, including the lifetime designation University of Colorado Presidential Teaching Scholar. He received the UCCS Letters, Arts, and Sciences Annual Outstanding Research and Creative Works Award, 2004-2005, and the UCCS Annual Faculty Award for Excellence in Research, 2006-2007. Coolidge is a member of the American Psychological Association and the Paleoanthropology Society. He teaches introductory statistics, cognitive evolution, and graduate courses in cognition and personality.


Meeting ID: 420 278 450

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Meeting ID: 420 278 450
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Chris Stoughton is a Fermilab scientist and the chair of the Fermilab Colloquium Committee, which organizes the Colloquium series.