#TTAT (The Types And Tokens, June 09, 2018):
Are you unique, even though you are of a certain type? What kind of a tree is the tree of life? Are all organisms, languages, and substances in the world distinct? ‘Can’ languages be genetically interpreted? How do we know if we have an origin common with (say) bacteria? Are types always fuzzy, and tokens always particular? Do types exist, & are they like classes? Does our craving for understanding lead us to structures, or does the World ‘have’ a structure? Are all languages tokens of a meta-language? Is Japanese (language) an isolate and therefore both a type and a token? Are all facts structural facts? Can there be tokens that do not belong to any type? How do new types come to be? What is language itself a type of? Is the Chomskyian Universal Grammar evolving? Did (inner) language precede speech? Is our thinking overlapping, and speech ordered? Do animals think? What is inherited? Can it be said, for a certain function (or a disease), how many types we are? Would we all have precision medicine available for each one of us in the near future? &, from the standpoint of eternity is there only one type – sub specie aeternitatis…? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from linguistics (Dr. Tanmoy Bhattacharya, University of Delhi, New Delhi), genomics (Dr. Rakesh Mishra, CSIR-CCMB, Hyderabad), & philosophy (Prof. Priyambada Sarkar, University of Calcutta, Kolkata).
SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TTAT show.
Dr. Tanmoy Bhattacharya (linguistics) is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Advanced Studies in Linguistics, University of Delhi (DU), New Delhi. His research interests are in the areas of syntax, psycholinguistics, gender, disability studies, deaf education, and sign linguistics. Prior to joining DU, he held research & academic positions at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, University of London, UK), Universität Leipzig (Germany), University College London (UCL, England), M. S. University (Baroda), and University of Hyderabad (UoH, Hyderabad). Dr. Bhattacharya completed his B.A. (Chemistry) & M.A. (Linguistics) from DU, and then went to complete his first Ph.D. in Linguistics from UoH (1990-1995), and the second Ph.D. from UCL (1995-1999). In his doctoral work, he tried to explore both big and small constructions in natural language, with the investigations confirming the Chomskyan universal grammar project of the generative enterprise. Most recently though, with the desire to bring linguistics and related technology closer to popular science, he has been involved in writing on migration and evolution through an essay series on ‘Peopling of the Northeast of India’ and ‘Being Human, Again’ (published since 2016). This has led his technical expertise in linguistics to also bear upon the question of ‘peopling’ by looking at the linguistic evidence along with the genetic and archaeological. Dr. Bhattacharya has contributed to ‘Yearbook of South Asian Languages and Linguistics’ (Mouton, 2006), co-edited two books, & is currently working on three volumes as part of CIIL (Central Institute of Indian Languages) Grammar Revisiting series. He has been the chief editor of ‘Indian Linguistics’ (2015-2017), and was the editor of ‘People’s Linguistic Survey of India volume on Indian Sign Language’ (2014). He is also a member of multiple professional societies, including, Generative Linguistics of the Old World (GLOW), & Linguistic Association of Great Britain (LAGB). [Note: Also a SynTalkr on #TNSO (The Not So Obvious)]
Dr. Rakesh Mishra (genomics) is currently the Director of CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad. He received his M.Sc. (Chemistry, 1981), & a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from University of Allahabad (Allahabad, 1986). He then started his carrier in Biology by studying DNA structure at Molecular Biophysics Unit (MBU) of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc, Bangalore) and, subsequently, studies the effect of such structures on the regulatory functions at CCMB. As part of his post doctoral research, he also studied antisense control of protozoan parasites at the University of Bordeaux (France), mechanism of rRNA processing in frog eggs at Saint Louise University (USA), and the body axis formation in fruit fly at the University of Geneva (Switzerland). His current research interests concern how the genetic material (DNA) is packaged in the nucleus of the cells and how different cell types utilize genomic DNA in distinct manners. He also studies the evolutionary logic of anterior-posterior body axis formation in animals, and the epigenetic regulation and development. At CCMB, he is studying how genetic information is stored and used in living systems using fruit fly and zebrafish as the experimental organisms. Dr. Mishra is an elected Fellow of Indian Academy of Sciences (IAS), National Academy of Sciences, India (NASI), Andhra Pradesh Academy of Sciences, Indian National Science Academy (INSA) and Telangana Academy of Sciences. Dr. Mishra is also a JC Bose National Fellow. Dr. Mishra has published more than a 100 articles in multiple journals such as Scientific Reports, Nucleic Acids Research (Oxford University Press), Genomics Data (Elsevier), PLOS Genetics (Public Library of Science), Molecular Cytogenetics (BioMed Central), European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry (Elsevier), Molecular Biology of the Cell (American Society for Cell Biology), and Journal of Biosciences (IAS).
Prof. Priyambada Sarkar (philosophy) is Professor at the Department of Philosophy, University of Calcutta, Kolkata, where she also held the position of the Head of Department from 2003-2005. Her research interests are analytic philosophy, epistemology, applied ethics, & Indian ethics. She completed her M.Phil. from Jadavpur University and then went to King’s College, London (England) to do her Ph.D. (1982-1986). She has co-edited six books, and authored three books, namely, ‘Wittgenstein and solipsism’ (Progressive Publishers, Kolkata 2009), ‘Uttarparber Wittgenstein: Philosophical Investigations’ (in Bengali, West Bengal State Book Board, March 2007), ‘Tatparya o Vachya: Freger Bhasa-Darsaner Bhumika’ (Sense and Reference: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language of Gottlob Frege, in Bengali, Progressive Publishers, Kolkata, 2007). She has also published in conference proceedings, such as, ‘Wittgenstein on thoughts and Representations: Proceedings of the twenty fourth International Wittgenstein Symposium’ (Wien2001). Prof. Sarkar has also coordinated multiple lectures as a part of the Special Assistance Program, Departmental Research Support (SAP-DRS), developed by University Grants Commission (UGC, India) from 2008-2010. These lectures were organized around themes such as, ‘Gandhi’s concept of non-violence, conscience and svadharma’, ‘knowledge and skepticism: Indian and western’, & ‘epistemological problems and their solutions from the Nyaya perspective’. Also, Prof. Sarkar is President of Ludwig Wittgenstein Philosophical Society (New Delhi), a life member of Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR), and a life member of British Wittgenstein Society (UK). She was also an external member of academic committee of Presidency University (Kolkata, 2011-2012). She was awarded a Fellowship of Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS, Shimla 2012-2014) and was also a Visiting Senior Fellow of King’s College (London, 2001-2002).
Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.
#TTAT mentions: Eric Lenneberg, Charles Walcott, Harry Whittington, Stephen Jay Gould, & Noam Chomsky, among others.