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Detail of contribution


Co-Auteur(s): Lorenza MONDADA, U. Basel Florence OLOFF, U. Basel

Social interaction among baboons: issues of coordination and mutual alignment in non-human primates

Abstract/Résumé: Emanating from an ANR project involving biologists and linguists (Gestures, intention and hemispheric specialization in primates: Implications for the origins of language), the paper deals with the study of embodied communication among baboons. It is based on naturalistic observations of the conduct of baboons, documented by video recordings of their everyday life made in the CNRS Station of Primatology in Rousset (closed to Aix-en-provence, France). The paper presents some results of a detailed study of recurrent communicative social interactions video-recorded among baboons, such as greeting or threatening, but also between baboons and human observer such as attention getting gestures, food begging gestures and gaze alternation (e.g., Meguerditchian & Vauclair, 2009) . The question we try to answer is: is it possible to describe systematic sequence organization during communicative interactions in the baboons? Drawing on Conversation Analysis, and more precisely on the notion of sequence organization, the paper explores to what extent baboons engage in producing adjacency pairs (see also Rossano 2010). Adjacency pairs have been described as the basic form of sequential organization in (human) interaction (Schegloff & Sacks 1973): a first pair part (1PP) – constituted for example by a question – is not only followed by a second pair part (2PP) – an answer -, but also projects the normative expectation that a second pair part will be produced. We are exploring if baboons organize their interactions in terms of adjacency pairs: Are they orienting to adjacency pairs and to conditional relevance, i.e., are they treating the projections initiated by the 1PP? Are they displaying particular expectations about the next action, after a 1PP has been produced? Are they treating the absence of a 2PP as such? An answer to these questions will be sketched on the basis of a systematic study of a range of specific actions performed by baboons. First, on the basis of a detailed analysis of these actions – based on multimodal transcripts (realized with the software ELAN) of videos documenting the mutual embodied conduct of baboons – the paper aims at sketching a first systematics of sequence organization in baboons' communication . Second, on the basis of such an analysis, notions such as ‘intersubjectivity’, ‘shared intentions’, and ‘mutual attention’ will be discussed. In this way, the paper hopes to contribute to contemporary discussions on interactions among primates and on what characterizes human vs. non-human communication and cognition (see Schmelz et al. 2011, Tomasello & Call 2011, Tomasello & Herrmann 2010, Meguerditchian & Vauclair, 2008).