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Numeral systems are uniquely human cognitive tools. It is impossible to imagine the modern world without them. They helped us develop abstract and symbolic thinking, and underpin many of our scientific, technological, and social advances.They are present in almost every speech community across the globe, and yet they are strikingly diverse. 

The ERC Synergy Project “The Evolution of Cognitive Tools for Quantification” (QUANTA)] studies the origin and diversification of quantification in different human cultures. Its interdisciplinary approach integrates data and methods from anthropology, archaeology, cognitive science, and linguistics.

Our DLCE QUANTA group focuses on the origin and evolution of verbal systems for expressing quantity. We examine numeral systems of the world languages to account for their diversity, both by collecting original fieldwork data as well as by analyzing it with state of the art computational methods such as Bayesian phylolinguistics. Ongoing work includes global studies such as the analysis of the Numeralbank database, as well as area and family specific studies. 

Our research thrives on close collaboration with the other members of the QUANTA project, which include Andrea Bender’s group at the University of Bergen, Francesco d’Errico’s group at the University of Bordeaux, and Rafael Núñez’s group at the University of California in San Diego.

Group members

Group leader

Collaborators in DLCE