bird song/conversation analysis

Wendy Smith wsmith at
Fri Jun 18 16:48:17 UTC 2010

An excellent summary of CA for a beginner is the Hutchby and Wooffitt 
book, Conversation Analysis (not sure about the exact title), Polity 
Press (maybe 1998?). I use this with my undergrad sociolinguistics 
students and they really like it and actually get it:-)

s.t. bischoff wrote:
> 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.
> Thanks,
> Shannon
> 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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