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URPP Language and Space

Workshop on Vocal Accommodation

Tuesday, 19 May 2015, 9:00–17:00 Uhr, Rooms SOF-E-05, Schönberggasse 1 (Morning) and SOE-E-2, Schönberggasse 11 (Afternoon)

This interdisciplinary workshop brings together linguists and biologists working on accommodation processes in language and vocalizations. It provides a platform for exchange and participants get insight into research questions and methods of the other field of research and have the opportunity to discuss overarching questions and issues. The following questions will be addressed:

  • Do accommodation processes in vocalization / in language emerge automatically or intendedly? Which function(s) are they fulfilling?
  • What role do social factors play in accommodation processes in vocalization / in language?
  • What methods are suitable to quantify accommodation processes?
  • Are differences in vocalizations between families and populations a byproduct or are they functional?
  • Can we identify converging interests across the disciplines, and perspectives and approaches of the respective other field of research that are fruitful for new directions?  

Short input presentations provide the basis for discussions.

The workshop is organized by Hanna Ruch (URPP Language and Space),  Judith Burkart  and Yvonne Zürcher  (Anthropological Insititute and Museum of the UZH)

Contact and registration until 10.5.2015 via e-mail to Hanna Ruch, Mail: hanna.ruch [at]


Morning: SOF-E-05 (Schönberggasse 1, building left to Deutsches Seminar)
9.00–10.00 Introduction
Judith Burkart (Anthropological Institute and Museum, UZH)
Biological perspectives on vocal accommodation
Hanna Ruch (URPP Language and Space, UZH)
Linguistic perspectives on speech accommodation
10.00–10.30 Elodie Briefer (Ethology and Animal Welfare Unit, ETH)
Vocal communication in skylarks: the function of dialects
  Coffee break
11.00–11.30 Marta Manser (Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, UZH)
Vocal plasticity in meerkats
11.30–12.00 Simon Townsend (Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, UZH)
Vocal accommodation in chimpanzees
12.00–12.30 Yvonne Zürcher (Anthropological Institute and Museum, UZH)
Vocal accommodation in common marmosets
  Lunch: Faculty restaurant “Dozentenfoyer”, ETH
Afternoon: SOE-E-2 (Schönberggasse 11, container right to Deutsches Seminar)
14.00–14.30 Hanna Ruch (URPP Language and Space, UZH)
Phonetic accommodation in dialect contact situations
14.30–15.00 Susanne Grassmann (Developmental Psychology, UZH)
Lexical alignment in children
15.00–15.30 Volker Dellwo (Phonetics Laboratory, UZH)
The impact of voice identification skills on communication and social interaction
  Coffee break
16.00 – ~17.30 Discussion
Balthasar Bickel (Department of Comparative Linguistics, UZH)
Carel van Schaik (Anthropological Institute and Museum, UZH)