A rather unsolvable problem for a long time, the development of linguistic and cognitive skills in the prehistoric past can be studied nowadays with reasonable expectations of success thanks to the converging developments of several disciplines. New perspectives were opened by genetics, but also evolutionary anthropology, neurophysiology, and cognitive sciences seem to converge on offering a solid ground for a fresh approach to the old problem of the origin of language(s). Following the pioneer intuition of L. Cavalli Sforza, comparative maps of genetic and linguistic human families were produced, which show similarities between the distribution of genetic diversities and that of linguistic groups. Similarly, the development of linguistic skills is to be linked to the evolution of the brain and of its cognitive strategies. The study of the origin of language and of languages is emerging as a promising field for multi-disciplinary research, where prehistoric archaeology, palaeo-anthropology, genetics, linguistics, neurophysiology, cognitive sciences, as well computer science and robotics, can profitably collaborate, and where international collaboration promises great benefits.

Prof. Jean-Marie Hombert from the University of Lyon, France, submitted the text of the original Research Programme  to ESF. It was approved by the provisional Management Committee of the programme, which consisted of representatives from participating ESF Member Organisations, and formed the basis of the Call for Proposals.

The programme, The Origin of Man, Language and Languages (OMLL), was launched in 2001, making the OMLL programme the first EUROpean Science Foundation COllaborative RESearch (EUROCORES) programme to be launched.  

To download the OMLL Call for Proposals click here.