bird song/conversation analysis

s.t. bischoff at
Fri Jun 18 11:09:30 UTC 2010

Hi all,

A biologist colleague of mine who works on animal communication (bird songs)
is interested in learning a bit about conversation analysis (far outside my
area of expertise). He hopes that he might be able to get some ideas from
linguists how best to analyze certain bird song behaviour. Any references,
comments, or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Below is a brief
description of what he is looking at.


Behavioral ecologist seeks cross-disciplinary advice:

I am seeking input from Linguists to help develop a review of
answering rules in song birds. Briefly, individuals of many songbird
species sing repertoires of discrete learned song types.  When two
birds living on neighboring territories interact vocally (i.e.,
“countersing”), the song type that one bird sings can affect the other
bird’s choice of song type. In the simplest case, the second bird
might match the first bird's song type. A similar phenomenon occurs
when mated pairs of certain species sing rapidly alternating phrases,
resulting in so-called "duet" songs.The type of phrase uttered by one
partner affects the other partner’s subsequent choice of phrase. Thus
during both contersinging and duet singing, birds abide by “answering
rules”. Of course, these interactions have some properties in common
with conversations, and answering rules bear a passing resemblance to
adjacency pairs. I would be grateful if list members could suggest
resources (concepts, hypotheses, or methods) from Linguistics that
might be relevant to this project.  I am particularly interested in
hearing from students of conversational analysis. Thank you! -- David
Logue, Assistant Professor  / Department of Biology, University of
Puerto Rico

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