Nadège Lechevrel

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2011/2012
discipline Linguistics
Researcher at Laboratoire d’Histoire des Théories linguistiques, Université Paris Diderot

Research project

Two Case Studies for a pragmatic Epistemology of Methodologies in the Life Sciences and the Language Sciences


My work on the relationship between the life sciences and the language sciences unfolds into three main research projects.


First, in line with my doctoral dissertation on ecological approaches in linguistics, I currently focus on eco-evolutionary models of language change in a historical perspective. I am interested in the way integrative approaches to linguistic typology trigger new methodologies and changes in typological categorizations. This is particularly salient for example in work on temporal measurement of linguistic typological features (e.g. Nichols, 2004; Wichmann & Holman, 2009; Wichmann & Grant, 2010).


At NIAS, I also work on data related to an ecological approach to cognition. The project started in 2010 and was supported by a CNRS PEPS grant (with D. Guillo and C. Mondémé). My current work aims at contributing to the field of distributed cognition (that many researchers describe as being an “ecological approach” to cognition), using the methodology of conversation analysis (Have, 2007). I work on “planning” and “decision taking” by looking at data in experimental settings where two or more collaborators work with animals (namely baboons). This analysis therefore implies an interest for inter-species communication, “common ground” knowledge and “habituation” processes, in the elaboration of experimental protocols with animals. I defend the idea that experimental situations are not disembodied situations, and present conversational modalities to be further explored, allowing for fruitful discussions around “natural’ and “contrived’ data (Lynch, 2002; Potter, 2002; Speer, 2002).


My third project this year is to write a short history of the relationship between ethologists, biologists and linguists. Language and communication are two broad concepts upon which many institutional disciplinary divisions are based according to the country and its disciplinary traditions—communication in the humanities is often separated from linguistics, animal communication is often studied in animal behavior. Are linguists interested in animal communication in their scientific research? Do they often collaborate with ethologists in order to better understand animal communication? Who were the linguists who were once interested in works on animal communication like those by von Frisch, Lorenz or Köhler? Is animal communication implemented in academic curricula in the language sciences? Amongst the most famous linguists in both America and Europe, many have contributed some way or another to the debates over language and animal communication, mostly for questions related to the continuity (or not) between animals and humans, the origins of language and the distinctions between animal communication and human languages. Ethologists were/are also interested in linguistics, a subject they thought could help them analyze animal communication (in the 20th century, structuralist theories for example were a great source of inspiration for researchers working on bees and birds’ songs).



Nadège Lechevrel was born in Paris, France, in 1977. She is a linguist working on an interdisciplinary project, engaging with biology, ethology, and cognitive science. She received her Ph.D. from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, where she studied ecological approaches to language from a historical perspective. She is an affiliated member of the Laboratoire d’Histoire des Théories linguistiques, Université Paris Diderot (Paris 7), Alumna EHESS, LIAS-IMM (Institut Marcel Mauss).

Selected publications


'L’écologie du langage d’Einar Haugen', Histoire, Épistémologie, Langage, vol. 32, no. 2, Sciences du langage et psychologie, à la charnière des xixe et xxe siècles, 2011, pp. 151-166.


Les approches écologiques en linguistique. Enquête critique, Academia-Bruylant, collection “ Sciences du langage. Carrefours et points de vue”, Louvain-la-Neuve, 2010.


'Structuralisme et complexités : de la sociolinguistique à l’écologie des langues ? Petite histoire du concept d’écologie en linguistique', in H. Boyer (ed.), Pour une épistémologie de la sociolinguistique, Lambert-Lucas, Limoges, 2010, pp. 225-233.


junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Linguistics and Discourse Analysis
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Political Science
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline History
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2014/2015
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Political Science