Sci-Fi influences on Evolutionary Linguistics

The December talk will be given by Dr Hannah Little who will be talking about her research into evolutionary linguistics.

Poster for Dr. Hannah Little
Poster for Dr. Hannah Little

How did humans first start speaking to each other? We all know how difficult it is to communicate with someone who does not speak the same language as us. Imagine then, how difficult it would be to communicate with someone with no language at all. At some point in our evolutionary history, this is exactly the problem our ancestors faced. However, language does not fossilise, so how can we know how humans might have solved this problem? Hannah will take us on a humorous tour of how science fiction might help us answer this question of how language – our most powerful tool – can be established from scratch when there is no pre-existing communication system.

Dr Hannah Little did her PhD at the VUB in Brussels on evolutionary linguistics. She investigates how language might have emerged in both humans and non-human animals, and how modality (speech or sign), iconicity and social factors influence linguistic structure. She is also a lecturer in science communication at UWE Bristol. She teaches lectures on podcasts, online video, public speaking and inclusivity. She also teaches on science and comedy, and sometimes does some stand-up herself!

Some quotes about Hannah’s recent talk at the British Science Festival in Hull:

“Funniest thing of the 2018 British Science Festival”

“A really exciting talk, and the funniest of the week!”


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