2019 excd lab Review and Journal Round-Up

Each week, the excd lab take turns to offer journal articles for discussion, or even present our own research.  

August Away Day walk from Botanical Gardens to Leigh Woods

In 2019 Journal Club members enjoyed the company of regular guests Dr Dan Smith, Dr Kit Opie, Dr Catherine Sheard (Biology) and undergrad, Jasmine Calladine. We also welcomed new guests: Philosophy PhD students Shaun Stanley and Arsham Nejad Kourki, visiting Professor Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, Anthropology PhD student Arif Jamal and Biology PhD student Gareth Coleman. 

We bid a sad farewell (for now) to core members, Dr Alice Mitchell, now a Junior Professor in the Institute of African Studies at the University of Cologne, and Dr Seán Roberts who became a Lecturer in the School of English, Communication and Philosophy at Cardiff University.

Later in the year, we welcomed excd Research AssociateDr Terhi Honkola (University of Turku) to the team; and hosted a fascinating presentation from visiting researcher, Brea McCauley (Simon Fraser University, Canada) on archaeological and anthropological perspectives of finger amputation rituals.

Our continuing interdisciplinary nature means we get to explore and discuss a great range of articles together. 

 

Here’s a round-up of 2019’s offerings: 

Spolaore, E. & Wacziarg, R. (2013) How Deep Are the Roots of Economic Development? Journal of Economic Literature 51(2): 325–369, (June 2013) 

Ball, C.  (2018) Language of Kin Relations and Relationlessness Annual Review of Anthropology Vol. 47:47-60, (August 20 2018) 

Jakiela, P. & Ozier, O. (2018) Gendered Language World Bank Group, Development Economics, Policy Research Working Paper 8464 (June 2018) 

Schulz, J., Bahrami-Rad, D., Beauchamp, J. & Henrich, J. The Origins of WEIRD Psychology SSRN (June 22, 2018).   

House, B.R. (2017) How do social norms influence prosocial development? Current Opinion in Psychology Vol. 20: 87-91 

Fortunato, L. (2019) Lineal kinship organisation in cross-specific perspective SocArXiv, March 15 2019 

Tamariz, M. (2019) Replication and emergence in cultural transmission Physics of Life Reviews Vol. 30: 47-71, (October 2-19) 

Mesoudi, A. (2017) Pursuing Darwin’s curious parallel: Prospects for a science of cultural evolution PNAS Vol. 114(30): 7853-7860 (July 25 2017) 

Daly, M. & Perry, G. (2019) Grandmaternal childcare and kinship laterality. Is rural Greece exceptional? Evolution and Human Behaviour Vol. 40(4): 385-394, (July 2019) 

Griesser, M. & Suzuki, T.N. (2016) Kinship modulates the attention of naïve individuals to the mobbing behaviour of role models Animal Behaviour Vol. 112: 83-91 (February 2016) 

Cuskley, C. (2019) Alien forms for alien language: investigating novel form spaces in cultural evolutioPalgrave Communications Vol. 5(87), (August 6 2019) 

Vettese, T. (2019) Sexism in the Academy: Women’s narrowing path to tenure Head Case Issue 34, Spring 2019 

Gray, R.D., Greenhill, S.J., Ross R.M. (2007) The Pleasures and Perils of Darwinizing Culture (with Phylogenies) Biological Theory Vol. 2: 360-375 (March 20 2015) 

Power, E.A. & Ready, E. (2019) Cooperation beyond consanguinity: post-marital residence, delineations of kin and social support among South Indian Tamils Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B, 374(1780)(July 15 2019) 

Everett, C., Blasí, D.E., S.G. Roberts (2016) Language evolution and climate: the case of desiccation and tone, Journal of Language Evolution, Vol 1(1)33–46(February 19 2016) 

Summer intern, Jasmine Calladine’s guest blog post

This summer I worked with Dr Alice Mitchell researching how person reference terms are used in child-directed speech in English. To do this we made use of the CHILDES database (example pictured below), a collection of transcriptions of children’s speech.  Instances of person reference were recorded and coded into five categories, kin terms, kin terms + name, name, noun phrase or pronoun.

An example of the CHILDES database. For more info see https://childes.talkbank.org/

We were particularly interested to see how adults used kinship terms, and whether they used their own perspective on the kinship relation or the child’s. Kin terms represented around a quarter of all person references in child-directed speech. Of these, the vast majority were anchored to the child’s perspective. Adults only rarely anchored kinship terms to their own perspective, and a small proportion of terms were anchored to a third person’s perspective, e.g. “Stefan’s Mummy”. This was most noticeable in the usage of kinterms as self-references. Adults would frequently refer to themselves by the kin term the child calls them, e.g. “Mummy’s going to the toilet, darling”. About half of all child-anchored kin terms were self-references, making this specific kin term usage one of the most frequent types.

There were also variations in the kin terms themselves. For example, the kin term “Mother” had several variations depending on country and the age of the child. “Mummy” was the most frequent term used by UK English speakers whereas American English speakers used “Mommy” the most. In kinterms relating to fathers, use of “Dada” was more likely to be found in corpora with younger children, whereas “Daddy” was used across a range of ages.

Whilst siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins were likely to come up in conversation, these relations tended to be referred to by name rather than by kin term. Names were the most frequent type of person reference. A surprising finding from this research was the amount of times fictional characters, either from TV shows or books were discussed. Out of the 492 instances of name references in the database, “Miffy” a cartoon rabbit was mentioned 42 times! Other popular characters included Winnie the Pooh and Dora the explorer. It is unclear whether fictional characters are this frequent in naturalistic child-directed speech, or whether this is a bias of the way the information was collected as many of the recordings were of play sessions, where toys of those characters triggered discussion.

After finishing data collection I had the chance in my final week of my internship to contribute to the CHIELD project (pictured below). The first two papers I coded were concerned with language acquisition in children. I found it really interesting to learn about what evolutionary mechanisms underpinned the patterns of child-directed speech I had noticed in the database, as well as learn about cultural differences in how adults spoke to their children. Outside of university, music is my main hobby, so having the chance to read about its evolution and its connection to human language was really eye opening. Learning what evolutionary mechanisms are needed to support each part of singing behaviour (i.e. rhythmic and melodic phrasing) and how they could be found in non-human animals was particularly interesting for me.

Section of Jasmine’s CHIELD contribution. For more info see http://chield.excd.org/
Summer Intern, Jasmine Calladine

My four weeks as a summer intern at excd were really enjoyable. I learnt so much in a short period of time. Getting to grips with the practical side of anthropology, through data collection, coding and analysis will be an incredibly useful foundation for next year of my degree. Seeing the range of research being done in the lab has given me plenty of ideas for dissertation topics!

Conversation across languages and cultures: Dr Joe Blythe

The past few weeks the lab has hosted Dr Joe Blythe as  Benjamin Meaker Visiting Fellow from the University of Bristol’s Institute for Advanced Studies (thanks IAS!).

Joe’s final event is this evening, and we’re delighted to be hosting his public lecture:

Conversation across languages and cultures: Cross-linguistic perspectives on taking turns to talk.

Details:

Thursday 8 February 2018

17:00 – 18.00 & drinks reception

Lecture Theatre 3, Woodland Road Arts Complex