Language is a complex adaptive system: Explorations and evidence

Kristine Lund   Pierluigi Basso Fossali    Audrey Mazur   Magali Ollagnier-Beldame  


The ASLAN labex - Advanced studies on language complexity - brings together a unique set of expertise and varied points of view on language. In this volume, we employ three main sections showcasing diverse empirical work to illustrate how language within human interaction is a complex and adaptive system. The first section – epistemological views on complexity – pleads for epistemological plurality, an end to dichotomies, and proposes different ways to connect and translate between frameworks. The second section – complexity, pragmatics and discourse – focuses on discourse practices at different levels of description. Other semiotic systems, in addition to language are mobilized, but also interlocutors’ perception, memory and understanding of culture. The third section – complexity, interaction, and multimodality – employs different disciplinary frameworks to weave between micro, meso, and macro levels of analyses. Our specific contributions include adding elements to and extending the field of application of the models proposed by others through new examples of emergence, interplay of heterogeneous elements, intrinsic diversity, feedback, novelty, self-organization, adaptation, multi-dimensionality, indeterminism, and collective control with distributed emergence. Finally, we argue for a change in vantage point regarding the search for linguistic universals.


  • Introduction to language as a complex adaptive system
    Pierluigi Basso Fossali , Kristine Lund
  • Introduction to epistemological views on complexity
    Magali Ollagnier-Beldame
  • Semiotic mediations and complexity management
    Paradoxes and regulative principles
    Pierluigi Basso Fossali 
  • What knowledge owes to experience: Complexity and first-person epistemology
    Magali Ollagnier-Beldame
  • Modelling the co-elaboration of knowledge
    Connecting cognitive, linguistic, social and interactional systems
    Kristine Lund
  • Introduction to complexity, pragmatics and discourse
    Pierluigi Basso Fossali 
  • Proposal for a simplex account of discourse complexity using the pragma-enunciative theory of points of view
    Alain Rabatel
  • The morphogenesis of language action
    Complexity and rhythmic synchronisation of enunciation
    Antonino Bondì
  • Dialogism for daily interaction
    Aleksandra Nowakowska, Hughes Constantin de Chanay
  • Modalities in written chat interactions
    A complex system
    Pierre Halté
  • Introduction to complexity, interaction and multimodality
    Audrey Mazur, Véronique Traverso
  • Collective reasoning as the alignment of self-identity footings
    Claire Polo, Kristine Lund, Christian Plantin, Gerald P. Niccolai
  • Multimodal conversational routines
    Talk-in-interaction through the prism of complexity
    Elizaveta Chernyshova, Vanessa Piccoli, Biagio Ursi
  • Multimodal practice of participation in a complex and dynamic framework
    Heike Baldauf-Quilliatre, Isabel Colon de Carvajal
  • Second language use and development in an immersion class considered as a complex adaptive process
    Peter Griggs, Nathalie Blanc
  • Considering the complex adaptive system from multiple vantage points
    Kristine Lund, Pierluigi Basso Fossali , Audrey Mazur, Magali Ollagnier-Beldame



Kristine Lund

Kristine Lund currently leads the French 4.3M laboratory of excellence "Advanced Studies on Language Complexity". She is a CNRS Senior Research Engineer in the ICAR language sciences laboratory at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon. Her research is driven by her interest in diverse perspectives on collaboration and learning for individuals, groups, and communities. She studies argumentation and explanation as mechanisms for individual and collaborative knowledge construction focusing on socio-affective-cognitive conflicts, pragmatic competence, and embodied meaning-making. She holds a PhD in Cognitive Science and a Habilitation in Education, both from the University of Grenoble Alpes. She is an elected fellow of the International Society of the Learning Sciences.

Pierluigi Basso Fossali 

Pierluigi Basso Fossali is full professor of Language Sciences at the Lyon 2 University. Currently he is director of the ICAR Laboratory at the ENS de Lyon, coordinator of the International Seminar of Semiotics in Paris, President of the French Association of Semiotics, and Vice President of Section 07-Language Sciences at the National Council of Universities (CNU). His research on the semiotics of cultures aims to articulate three epistemological approaches: (i) the study of the relations between linguistic mediations and perceptual experience, (ii) the analysis of the discursive strategies of texts, and (iii) the description of the practices of creation and interpretation of cultural objects in relation to specific institutions of meaning (domains). 

Audrey Mazur

Audrey Mazur is a researcher at the University of Lyon, in the ASLAN laboratory of excellence and in the laboratory ICAR. She holds a PhD in psycholinguistics, is head of the Inreach and Outreach of ASLAN, and co-leader of the ICAR research team CogCinel. Her research focuses on written and spoken language development of children, adolescents and young adults with or without language impairment. Her projects implement a transdisciplinary perspective and include the diverse actors around a societal question. She has recently co-edited a book about cross-disciplinary perspectives of the multimodality of language and two special journal issues. The first focuses on dyslexia in adulthood, and the second on applied linguistics that respond to societal needs.

Magali Ollagnier-Beldame

Magali Ollagnier-Beldame holds a PhD in Cognitive Science and joined the French National Centre for Scientific Research in 2012. Her work focuses on the emergence and the creation of ‘shared worlds’, especially in situations of interaction between two people. She leads a scientific program on intersubjectivity with a micro-phenomenological approach, using first-person interview epistemology and methodology. Main goals are better understanding intersubjectivity ‘from inside’ and exploring its deployment through affective, cognitive and sensory interactions. She is also a certified trainer in explicitation techniques (GREX - Research group in explicitation) and a counsellor in Focusing and Person-centred Approach (IFEF - Francophone European Focusing Institute).

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July 15, 2022
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Cite as
Lund, Kristine, Basso Fossali , Pierluigi, Mazur, Audrey & Ollagnier-Beldame, Magali (eds.). 2022. Language is a complex adaptive system: Explorations and evidence. (Conceptual Foundations of Language Science 8). Berlin: Language Science Press. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.6546419


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ISBN-13 (15)