Using language is as natural as breathing. Language transforms every aspect of human experience, but understanding the evolution, diversification and use of language is difficult. There are multitudes of language systems and all are in constant flux.
The ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (CoEDL) set out to establish a new approach to the science of language, departing from the universalising logic that dominated linguistics from the late 20th Century. CoEDL placed diversity, variation and change at the centre of its research model, believing that appreciating this diversity could improve understanding of the evolution of language, culture, society and humankind.
Key to this research model was bringing together experts from diverse backgrounds to generate new discoveries. Organising these diverse perspectives were six lines of inquiry, whose interaction is captured by the weaving of the fibres in the CoEDL logo. The Evolution Program investigated how language emerged and how and why it continues to change over time. The Learning Program focused on how children and adults learn languages in different social and educational contexts. The Processing Program studied the psychology and neurocognitive significance of humans’ ability to perceive, produce and understand diverse languages. The Shape Program was concerned with the design and documentation of language and understanding the differences between languages. The Archiving Program worked across the Programs to archive CoEDL research effectively, to facilitate the preservation of heritage materials and to make them accessible. Finally, the Technology Program aimed to develop tools to assist with language use and research.
Transforming the science of language is a process, not an endpoint. This was CoEDL’s mission and it led the Centre’s researchers along many unexpected and fruitful paths. Facilitated by the CoEDL organising principle encapsulated in our logo, our members reshaped the field into an interdisciplinary and collaborative endeavour. The CoEDL community shared this vision of the language sciences with everyone they worked with in research, outreach and education, ensuring the CoEDL vision will continue. These members, their collaborators and the people they influenced are now a vast international network that spans not only diverse countries and languages, but also diverse disciplines and practices, from innovative technology to millennia-old traditions and cultural practices.
The process of transformation that CoEDL embarked on led along many paths and opened many more. It is not complete and never will be, but the foundation that CoEDL established has ensured that it will continue to shape language science as an interdisciplinary and inclusive field of inquiry.
The content on this website is a selection of CoEDL’s research and activities and is accurate as of 30 November 2022. The Connections section displays Centre data on people, research projects, languages and outreach activities connected to CoEDL. The Stories section offers short narratives on a subset of these connections.
Other highlights — including research fellows, students, affiliates, higher degree research theses and other publications — are listed on this page.See Full coedl selected highlights list