The Department of Linguistics of the Institute for Mediterranean Studies is the only research unit in Greece dedicated to studying the historical evolution of languages using methods inspired by evolutionary biology. It aims to develop phylogenetic methods that are adequate for representing the dynamics of language change and to collect data that are most suitable for its reconstruction. The department fosters collaboration among linguistics, evolutionary biology and informatics, also integrating theoretical-formal linguistics with historical linguistics, dialectology, and typology. It primarily focuses on data derived from morphology and syntax, in contrast to existing research that predominantly relies on lexical/cognate data.
Established in 2023, the department brings together experts from humanities, life sciences, and computer science with the aim of laying the groundwork for a new interdisciplinary field, already flourishing abroad but currently absent in Greece. To fulfill its objectives, the Department will train new researchers and conduct research that combines innovative qualitative and quantitative methods to (a) elucidate what distinguishes the evolution of languages from that of species and (b) evaluate the historical signal contained in linguistic data. Through collaborations with biologists, computer scientists, and potential synergies with historians, archaeologists, philologists, and anthropologists, the Department seeks to contribute to the reconstruction of historical language relationships, shedding light on the origins and history of human populations, with a particular focus on Eurasia, the Mediterranean, and Greece.