Prof. Dr. George van Driem

George van Driem George van Driem occupies the chair for Historical Linguistics at the University of Berne. He has conducted field research in Nepal, Bhutan, northeastern India and the western Indian Himalayas since 1983 and produced several in-depth grammars, a number of grammatical sketches and coordinated the endangered language documentation of the research team of the Himalayan Languages Project since 1993. His two-volume compendium Languages of the Himalayas is an ethnolinguistic handbook for South and Central Asia and adjacent regions.

George van Driem participates in Languages and Genes of the Greater Himalayan Region, a research programme which he conceived in 2000 and which is supported by the European Science Foundation. He founded the annually convening Himalayan Languages Symposium (HLS) in 1995 and resurrected the International Conference for Austroasiatic Linguistics (ICAAL) in 2005. Since 2004, he directs the Trans-Himalayan Database Programme.

George van Driem promulgates Symbiosism, the symbiotic theory of language. His Darwinian model of the human mind explains language as a semiotic organism, a mutualist symbiont which has arisen and evolved in the hominid brain. Symbiosism, however, distinguishes the mutualist nature of language from the workings of individual meanings, which have the properties of non-constructible sets in the constructivist mathematical sense. Language-borne ideas can be both beneficial and deleterious to the human host.

Symbiomism is the school of philosophy which understands our human identity as symbiomes of a biological and language as a semiotic symbiont. Man is both the hominid host and the language that dwells in his brain and mediates much of his thinking.