Human language as we know today are the result of complex processes that interleaved the cognitive abilities of many people, into a socially shared set of conventional behaviors and artifacts over many generations. However, little do we know about how language evolved in the extremely brief history of Homo Sapiens. Oral modality may not the best place to examine this issue considering the established human communities have very little need to originate novel communication system and the much too pervasive consequence of pre-established language model making it nearly impossible for modern-day human beings to originate nascent communication system without any biases. The manual modality, by contrast, offers an in vivo laboratory in which we can observe how a language emerges in the absence of a prior language.
The aim of my PhD work is to understand human language as a result of evolutionary processes by exploiting the uniqueness of the multimodal communication. My research focuses on answering questions such as how individuals from different cultural backgrounds, ages or groups, improvise solutions facing with communicative challenges and how information is encoded in the communicative visual signal. Recent techniques from the field of motion capture and computer vision could help to better investigate information transfer properties of dynamic visual data, such as that produced in sign language or gesture.
Professor Kita Sotaro