Dr. Michael Pleyer

I am an evolutionary and cognitive linguist. 

I have two main research tracks: Language evolution and language acquisition.  In the domain of language evolution, I am working on cognitive-linguistic, usage-based and constructionist approaches to the evolution of language. Specifically, I am looking at the the cognitive foundations and interactional mechanisms underlying the emergence of language. In the domain of language acquisition, I am interested in the role of perspectivation and pretend play in language acquisition. 

I got my PhD in English Linguistics from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, in 2019 with a thesis on "The Everyday Use of pretend in Child Language and Child-Directed Speech: A Corpus Study"

Currently I am a POLONEZ BIS fellow  at the Center for Language Evolution Studies, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland,  The fellowship is co-funded by the European Commission and the Polish National Science Centre under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie COFUND grant. 

Updates

14/02/2024

Our introduction to our special issue on "Combinatoriality and Compositionality in Apes, Hominins, Humans, and Birds" is now out in the International Journal of Primatology  (w/ Nathalie Gontier, Stefan Hartmann & Evelina Daniela Rodrigues). Full issue coming soon! 

Gontier, Nathalie, Stefan Hartmann, Michael Pleyer & Evelina Daniela Rodrigues. 2024. Combinatoriality and Compositionality in Communication, Skills, Tool Use, and Language. International Journal of Primatology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10764-024-00416-8

25/10/2023

My book review (in German) of  

Arie Verhagen. 2021. Ten Lectures on Cognitive Evolutionary Linguistics (Distinguished Lectures in Cognitive Linguistics 24). Leiden, London: Brill. 218 pp.

has just been published in Zeitschrift für Rezensionen zur germanistischen Sprachwissenschaft (here)

27/09/2023

Our lab is out in full force at Protolang 8 - Ways to Protolanguage in Rome and I am involved in the following presentations:

Kuleshova, Svetlana, Michael Pleyer & Elizabeth Qing Zhang. 2023. "An Archaeological and Comparative Perspective on the Evolution of the Cognitive Foundations of Metaphor: The Case of Tool Use and Analogy." Protolang 8 - Ways to Protolanguage Conference Series, Rome, Italy, September 2023.  

Pleyer, Michael, Jakob Neels & Stefan Hartmann. 2023. "The Contribution of Entrenchment, Conventionalisation and Usage to Language Evolution" Protolang 8 - Ways to Protolanguage Conference Series, Rome, Italy, September 2023. 

Pleyer, Michael, Angelo D. Delliponti, Yen Ying Ng & Elizabeth Qing Zhang. 2023. "The Cognitive Requirements for Developing a Communication System: Evidence from Experimental Semiotics and Comparative Cognition." Protolang 8 - Ways to Protolanguage Conference Series, Rome, Italy, September 2023. 

22/09/2023

At PTNCE23, the 9th Conference of the Polish Society for Human and Evolution Studies in Padova, Italy we are presenting joint work on the following topics:

Matzinger, Theresa, Michael Pleyer, Elizabeth Qing Zhang & Przemysław Żywicziński. 2023 "Pause Length Predicts Cognitive State Attribution in Native and Non-Native Speakers." PTNCE23. 9th Conference of the Polish Society for Human and Evolution Studies. Padova, Italy, September 2023. 

Pleyer, Michael, Yen Ying Ng, Angelo D. Delliponti & Elizabeth Qing Zhang. 2023. "The Cognitive Requirements for Developing a Multimodal Communication System: Evidence from Experimental Semiotics and Comparative Cognition." PTNCE23. 9th Conference of the Polish Society for Human and Evolution Studies. Padova, Italy, September 2023. 

13/09/2023

Together with Elizabeth Qing Zhang (Jiangsu Normal University), I am presenting a talk at the Gesture and Speech in Interaction Conference at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen:

Zhang, Elizabeth Qing, Edward Ruoyang Shi & Michael Pleyer. 2023. "A neurobiological perspective on the evolutionary origins of multimodal communication." Gesture and Speech in Interaction 2023; Nijmegen, the Netherlands, September 2023. 

04/09/2023

I am at the 26th International Conference on Historical Linguistics in Heidelberg, where I am presenting joint work with Jakob Neels (Leipzig) and Stefan Hartmann (Düsseldorf):

Pleyer, Michael, Jakob Neels & Stefan Hartmann. 2023. "The Interaction of the Cognitive and Community Level in Language Evolution: A Usage-Based Perspective." 26th International Conference on Historical Linguistics, Heidelberg, Germany, September 2023. 

29/08/2023

I am at the 56th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea in Athens, where I am presenting the following work:

Matzinger, Theresa, Michael Pleyer, Elizabeth Qing Zhang & Przemysław Żywicziński. 2023. "Pause Length Predicts Cognitive State Attribution in Native and Non-Native Speakers." 56th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea, Athens, Greece, August-September 2023. 

07/08/2023

I am at the 16th International Cognitive Linguistics Conference in Düsseldorf, where my colleagues and I have a number of presentations:

Matzinger, Theresa, Michael Pleyer, Elizabeth Qing Zhang & Przemysław Żywicziński. 2023. "Pause Duration and Differences in Mental State Attribution in Native and Non-Native Speakers." 16th International Cognitive Linguistics Conference, Düsseldorf, Germany, August 2023. 

Pleyer, Michael, Svetlana Kuleshova, Elizabeth Qing Zhang & Przemysław Żywicziński. 2023. "Tool Use, Analogy and the Evolution of the Cognitive Foundations of Metaphor: An Archaeological and Comparative Perspective." 16th International Cognitive Linguistics Conference, Düsseldorf, August 2023. 

Zhang, Elizabeth Qing, Edward Ruoyang Shi & Michael Pleyer. 2023. "Categorical Learning and the Cognitive Foundations of Language Evolution and Development". 16th International Cogntiive Linguistics Conference, Düsseldorf, Germany, August 2023. 

26/07/2023

I am at  the 45th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society in Sydney where my colleagues and I have a number of poster presentations:

Matzinger, Theresa, Michael Pleyer & Przemyslaw Zywiczysnki. 2023. "Speech pause length predicts the attribution of willingness to help in native and non-native speakers."45th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Sydney, Australia, July 2023. 

Pleyer, Michael, Svetlana Kuleshova & Elizabeth Qing Zhang. 2023. "Analogy and the Evolution of the Cognitive Foundations of Metaphor: A Comparative and Archaeological Perspective." 45th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Sydney, Australia, July 2023. [Proceedings paper here

Pleyer, Michael, Marek Placiński, Marta Sibierska, Sławomir Wacewicz, Monika Boruta-Zywiczynska & Przemyslaw Zywiczynski. 2023. "Using Motion Capture Technology in the Study of Non-verbal Communication." 45th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Sydney, Australia, July 2023. 

Zhang, Elizabeth Qing, Edward Ruoyang Shi & Michael Pleyer. 2023. "Categorical Learning and the Cognitive Foundations of Language Evolution and Development". 45th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Sydney, Australia, July 2023. [Proceedings paper here]

17/07/2023

I am very happy to be able to present my research in a talk at the Department of Psychology at Princeton University on "A Multifaceted Approach to the Evolution of Metaphor"

10/07/2023

I'm at the International Society for the History Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology biennial meeting 2023 in Toronto, Canada. With Bárbara Jiménez-Pazos, Chris Sinha and Nathalie Gontier I am organising a workshop on "Language and Evolution: Constructionist Views"

Togehter with Angelo D. Deliponti, I am also presenting a talk: "Pretend Play as a Constructed Niche Supporting Language Acquisition, Mentalizing and Cognitive Development"

09/05/2023

The preprint for our second accepted paper for CogSci2023 is also online:

Zhang, Elizabeth Qing, Edward Ruoyang Shi & Michael Pleyer. 2023. Categorical Learning and the Cognitive Foundations of Language Evolution and Development. PsyArXiv. DOI: 10.31234/osf.io/nkzrp. 

09/05/2023

A new preprint of our accepted paper for CogSci2023:

Pleyer, Michael, Svetlana Kuleshova, & Elizabeth Qing Zhang. 2023. Analogy and the Evolution of the Cognitive Foundations of Metaphor: A Comparative and Archaeological Perspective. PsyArXiv. DOI: 10.31234/osf.io/6dgkh. 

27/04/2023

Excited to have been invited as a plenary speaker for the workshop "Whose view is it?: From cognitive to philosophical approaches to perspective-taking" at the University of Cambridge. I gave a talk entitled "Perspective-Taking: Who Has It, What Is It, and How Did It Evolve?"

18/04/2023

New #openaccess paper out!
Wacewicz, Sławomir, Michael Pleyer, Aleksandra Szczepańska, Aleksandra Ewa Poniewierska, & Przemysław Żywiczyński. 2023. The Representation of Animal Communication and Language Evolution in Introductory Linguistics Textbooks. Journal of Language Evolution.  https://doi.org/10.1093/jole/lzac010 

13/01/2023

The new year is starting off well with a new #openaccess paper: 

Matzinger, Theresa, Michael Pleyer, and Przemysław Żywiczyński. 2023. "Pause Length and Differences in Cognitive State Attribution in Native and Non-Native Speakers" Languages 8, no. 1: 26. https://doi.org/10.3390/languages8010026

02/01/2022

My Lingua paper is now officially published as part of Vol 282 of Lingua, making it my first publication of the year on the second day of the year. Talk about an auspicious beginning!

Pleyer, Michael. 2023. The role of interactional and cognitive mechanisms in the evolution of (proto)language(s). Lingua 282: 103458. DOI: 10.1016/j.lingua.2022.103458.

28/12/2022

Closing out this year with an #openaccess paper. Just published:
Pleyer, Michael. 2022. The role of interactional and cognitive mechanisms in the evolution of (proto)language(s). Lingua. DOI: 10.1016/j.lingua.2022.103458.

06/10/2022

I am at the Cognition, Behaviour and Evolution Network Conference 2022: The Evolution of Information Transmission in Leiden, the Netherlands.

I am presenting a talk

Pleyer, Michael. 2022.  The Role of Interactional Mechanisms in the Co-Construction of Information Transmission in Humans. Cognition, Behaviour and Evolution Network Conference 2022: The Evolution of Information Transmission, Leiden, The Netherlands.

26/09/22

New #openaccess paper published! 

Pleyer, Michael, Ryan Lepic & Stefan Hartmann. 2022. Compositionality in Different Modalities: A View from Usage-Based Linguistics. International Journal of PrimatologyDOI: 10.1007/s10764-022-00330-x 

This paper is part of an upcoming special issue on compositionality in humans and other animals. 

05/09/2022

I am at the Joint Conference for Language Evolution in Kanazawa, Japan.  I am a co-author on the following presentations and proceedings papers:

Pleyer, M. & Zhang, E. Q. (2022). Re-Evaluating Hockett's Design Features From a Cognitive and Neuroscience Perspective: The Case of Displacement. In Ravignani, A., (Eds.): Proceedings of the Joint Conference on Language Evolution (JCoLE). doi:10.17617/2.3398549.  

Pleyer, M. & Pleyer, M. (2022). An Evolutionary Perspective on Impoliteness and the Pragmatic Concept of Face. In Ravignani, A. et al. (Eds.): Proceedings of the Joint Conference on Language Evolution (JCoLE). doi:10.17617/2.3398549 

Szczepańska, A., Poniewierska, A., Pleyer, M., Żywiczyński, P. & Wacewicz, S. (2022). What Linguistics Textbooks Teach About Language Evolution. In Ravignani, A. et al. (Eds.): Proceedings of the Joint Conference on Language Evolution (JCoLE). doi:10.17617/2.3398549. 

Vasileva, O. & Pleyer, M. (2022). Language Development and Cognitive Ontogeny: An Important Link. In Ravignani, A.. et al.  (Eds.): Proceedings of the Joint Conference on Language Evolution (JCoLE). doi:10.17617/2.3398549. 

25/05/2022

I have been awarded a  2-year POLONEZ BIS Fellowship by the Polish National Science Center with a project on "Metaphor and Semiotics in (Inter)Action at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland, in the Center for Language Evolution Studies.  The fellowship is co-funded by the European Commission and the Polish National Science Centre under the prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie COFUND grant. A short description of my project, which will start in September this year, can be read here.

16/02/2022

I have started a new job as Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Humanities, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland, where I work at the Center for Language Evolution Studies and the Centre of Excellence IMSErt - Interacting Minds, Societies, Environments 

14/09/2021

I presented my work at the Protolang 7 - Ways to Protolanguage Conference. 

You can watch my Presentation "Processes of Entrenchment and Conventionalisation in the Evolution of Language" here.

Another presentation on a project I am involved in can be found here:

Aleksandra Poniewierska, Aleksandra Szczepańska, Sławomir Wacewicz, Przemysław Żywiczyński and Michael Pleyer: "The Representation of Language Evolution Research in Introductory Linguistics Textbooks"

30/03/2021

New paper published! 

Hartmann, Stefan, Michael Pleyer, Sławomir Wacewicz, Antonio Benítez-Burraco & Przemysław Żywiczyński. 2021. Hypotheses and Definitions in Language Evolution Research: Reply to Mendívil-Giró. Biolinguistics 15. 1-11.

The paper is open access.

23/03/2021

New paper published as part of a Special Issue "Biolinguistic Research in the 21st Century":

Wacewicz, Sławomir, Przemyslaw Zywiczynski, Stefan Hartmann, Michael Pleyer & Antonio Benítez-Burraco. 2020. Language in Language Evolution Research: Towards a Pluralistic View. Biolinguistics 14. 59-101.

The paper is open access.

22/03/2021

New paper published! Hartmann, Stefan & Michael Pleyer. 2021. Constructing a Protolanguage: Reconstructing Prehistoric Languages in a Usage-Based Construction Grammar Framework. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological  Sciences 376. The preprint can be found here.

06/03/2021

My talk in the UMK #InventingKnowledge lecture series, “The Evolution and Foundations of the Interaction-, Language-, and Construction-Ready Brain” is now available online. Watch it here.

15/01/2021

New paper published! Pleyer, Michael & Stefan Hartmann. 2020. Construction Grammar for Monkeys? Animal Communication in the Light of Usage-Based Linguistic Theory. Evolutionary Linguistic Theory 2(2).  The preprint can be found here

12/01/2021

My talk "A cognitive perspective on pretend play and language in evolution and development" from the 2019 Protolang 6 - Ways To Protolanguage Conference in Lisbon is now available online! Watch it here.

18/11/2020

New paper accepted! Hartmann, Stefan & Michael Pleyer. accepted. Constructing a Protolanguage: Reconstructing Prehistoric Languages in a Usage-Based Construction Grammar Framework. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2020.0200 The author accepted manuscript can be found here

9/11/2020

New paper in press! Pleyer, Michael & Stefan Hartmann. 2020. Construction Grammar for Monkeys? Animal Communication in the Light of Usage-Based Linguistic Theory. Evolutionary Linguistic Theory 2(2).  The preprint can be found here

1/10/2020

New paper in press! Wacewicz, Sławomir, Przemyslaw Zywiczynski, Stefan Hartmann, Michael Pleyer & Antonio Benítez-Burraco. 2020. Language in Language Evolution Research: Towards a Pluralistic ViewBiolinguistics 14 

1/10/2020

Today is my first day as a postdoc at the Center for Language Evolution Studies & University Centre of Excellence IMSErt - Interacting Minds, Societies, Environments at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland

I'll be working with Prof. Slawomir Wacewicz on a project on "Determining the Impact of Language Evolution Research on Language Sciences: Methods, Terminology, Mindsets"

23/09/2020

My PhD thesis "The Everyday Use of pretend in Child Language and Child-Directed Speech: A Corpus Study" has now been published as an open-access publication!