Cedric Boeckx

Universitat de Barcelona


Cedric Boeckx is Research Professor at the Catalan Institute for Advanced Studies (ICREA), a member of the Universitat de Barcelona Institute for Complex Systems, and a member of the section of General Linguistics at the Universitat de Barcelona. Before joining ICREA, he was Associate Professor of Linguistics at Harvard University. He is the author of numerous books, including Islands and Chains (2003), Linguistic Minimalism (2006), Bare Syntax (2008), Language in Cognition (2009), Syntactic Islands (2012), Elementary Syntactic Structures (2014), and the editor of numerous volumes. He is also the founding co-editor of the Open Access journal Biolinguistics, and the founding editor of the Oxford University Press monograph series 'Oxford Studies in Biolinguistics'.

Research interests

My current research focuses on developing new ways of advancing the biolinguistic program, a growing interdisciplinary enterprise seeking to uncover the biological foundations of the human language faculty, a critical part of 'human cognitive biology'. My graduate training and early career were in theoretical linguistics, but my more recent work has a more explicit biological orientation. My current projects are all intended to facilitate integration among disciplines (linguistics, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and genetics), and lead to better experimental testing of theoretical hypotheses, as well as to more solid interpretations of experimental findings. I also seek to exploit the full pluralism characteristic of the life sciences to force a rethinking of long-held assumptions in theoretical linguistics and other domains of cognitive science.

Selected publications

- Boeckx C 2017, 'Language Evolution', In Human Brain Evolution (Evolution of Nervous Systems series, vol. 4), ed. T. Preuss, 325-339. London: Elsevier.

- Boeckx C 2017, 'The language-ready head: Evolutionary considerations', Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 24, 1, 194 - 199.

- Theofanopoulou C, Boeckx C & Jarvis ED 2017, 'A hypothesis on a role of oxytocin in the social mechanisms of speech and vocal learning', Proceedings Of The Royal Society B-biological Sciences, 284, 1861, 20170988.

- Theofanopoulou C, Gastaldon S, O’Rourke T, Samuels BD, Messner A, Martins PT, et al. 2017, 'Self-domestication in Homo sapiens: Insights from comparative genomics', PLoS ONE 12(10): e0185306.

- Samuels B, Boeckx C & Hauser M 2017, 'Looking for UG in animals: a case study in phonology', In Oxford handbook of Universal Grammar, ed. I. Roberts, 527-546. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

- Boeckx C, Martins PT & Leivada E 2017, 'Biolinguistics', In The Cambridge handbook of historical syntax, ed. I. Roberts and A. Ledgeway, 629-641. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

- Samuels B, Martins PT & Boeckx C 2017, 'Linguistic knowledge by descent: an evolutionary approach to stress typology', Journal of the Phonetic Society of Japan, 21, 71-78.

- Boeckx C 2017, 'A conjecture about the neural basis of recursion in light of descent with modification', Journal of Neurolinguistics, 43, B, 193 - 198.

Selected research activities

In the course of 2017, Cedric Boeckx was a member of the international advisory board and research team of of a major grant "Studies of language evolution for co- creative human communication" sponsored by  the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology-Japan, 2017-2022. He was also a visiting Fellow at Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, and coordinated (Language Evolution project), and coordinated a new project funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.