NCCR Evolving Language

2020 series

Home institutions: University of Zurich, University of Geneva

Language is what distinguishes human beings from all other species. However, its evolutionary origins remain poorly understood. In addition, today's communicative environment is being reshaped by digitalisation and artificial intelligence: the way we learn and use language has changed, raising the question of how language might develop in the future. The National Centre of Competence in Research "The Origins and Future of Language" (NCCR Evolving Language) explores the evolutionary origins and future development of linguistic communication in a transdisciplinary research programme encompassing linguistics, psychology, neuroscience, biology, anthropology, medicine, genetics, computer science, mathematics and philosophy. The NCCR is structured into three main themes: Dynamic structures of language, Biological substrates of language, and Social cognition of language. These three lines of research are complemented by Transversal Task Forces, which stimulate interdisciplinary collaboration by sharing methods, databases, technologies and equipment, and by fostering discussions on conceptual and ethical issues.

Further information on the NCCR:

Website NCCR Evolving LanguageExternal Link Icon

  • Contact details

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    Prof. Dr. Balthasar Bickel
    Universität Zürich
    Institut für vergleichende Sprachwissenschaft
    Affolternstrasse 56
    8050 Zürich
    Phone: +41 (0) 44 634 02 20
    balthasar.bickel@uzh.chExternal Link Icon

    Prof. Anne-Lise Giraud
    Université de Genève
    Département des Neurosciences fondamentales
    CMU, 1 rue Michel Servet
    1211 Genève 4
    Phone: +41 (0) 22 379 55 47
    anne-lise.giraud@unige.chExternal Link Icon


    NCCR Evolving Language
    Affolternstrasse 56
    8050 Zürich
    Phone: +41 (0) 44 634 02 35
    admin@evolvinglanguage.chExternal Link Icon

  • Funding

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    Funding 2020 – 2023 (Swiss francs)

    Funding source


    SNSF grant*


    Funds of University of Zurich*


    Funds of University of Geneva*


    Group funds of the project participants


    External funds


    NCCRs are financed through grants awarded by the SNSF, but also from other sources. The home institution involved in the NCCR also contributes a substantial amount of money. The available overall budget of the NCCR is further increased by monetary contributions from the project participants and third-party funds, which are generally invested by industrial companies.

  • Contact SNSF

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    Contact person at the SNSF:

    Thomas Griessen
    NCCR team
    Swiss National Science Foundation
    Wildhainweg 3
    3001 Bern
    Phone +41 (0) 31 308 23 51
    thomas.griessen@snf.chExternal Link Icon