Rara & Rarissima —
Collecting and interpreting unusual characteristics of human languages
Leipzig (Germany), 29 March - 1 April 2006

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Invited speakers

Larry Hyman  (University of California, Berkeley)
Frans Plank  (Universität Konstanz)
Ian Maddieson (University of California, Berkeley)
Daniel L.  Everett (University of Manchester)

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Universals of language have been studied extensively for the last four decades, allowing fundamental insight into the principles and general properties of human language. Only incidentally have researchers looked at the other end of the scale. And even when they did, they mostly just noted peculiar facts as "quirks" or "unusual behavior", without making too much of an effort at explaining them beyond calling them "exceptions" to various rules or generalizations.

Rarissima and rara, features and properties found only in one or very few languages, tell us as much about the capacities and limits of human language(s) as do universals. Explaining the existence of such rare phenomena on the one hand, and the fact of their rareness or uniqueness on the other, should prove a reasonable and interesting challenge to any theory of how human language works.

looking for rarissimaThemes

A suggested (but not exhaustive) list of relevant themes is:

Local Organizers

Jan Wohlgemuth
Michael Cysouw
Orin Gensler
David Gil


Rara & Rarissima Conference
attn. Jan Wohlgemuth
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Department of Linguistics
Deutscher Platz 6
04103 Leipzig

Fax +49-341-3550-333


* Download the Rara 2006 poster in A1 format (PDF, ca. 80 KB) and in A4 format (PDF, ca. 67 KB) *