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Sequence organization and timing of bonobo mother-infant interactions

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In recent years, some scholars have claimed that humans are unique in their capacity and motivation to engage in cooperative communication and extensive, fast-paced social interactions. While research on gestural communication in great apes has offered important findings concerning the gestural repertoires of different species, very little is known about the sequential organization of primates’ communicative behavior during interactions. Drawing on a conversation analytic framework, this paper addresses this gap by investigating the sequential organization of bonobo mother-infant interactions, and more specifically, how individuals solicit carries from one another. It shows how bonobos establish participation frameworks before producing a carry request gesture and how the ensuing communicative actions can be organized in adjacency-pair sequences. Moreover, the timing between the initiation of an action and its response is similar to what has been documented in adult human interaction. Finally, it outlines some of the orderly practices bonobos use to deal with the absence of response from the addressed participants in carry sequences. Keywords: adjacency pair; pan paniscus; conversation analysis; gestures; interactional time; sequence organization
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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