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This essay presents Gould’s distinctive system for analyzing kin terminologies showing the system’s power, importance, and usefulness—and showing its relationship to other approaches and the payoffs each aims at. In revealing significant new empirical regularities and simplifications, Gould’s analytic system implies important constraints on future analytic and interpretative approaches to kin terminologies. Some of these new insights involve the demonstration of the effect of distributed collective cognitive systems over and above the effects of repeated iterations of individual cognitive constraints or pressures. It is the peculiar nature of the kinterm domain that allows these findings to be so directly shown, but the implication is that these findings apply more generally to the collective cognitive systems that make up language and culture.
Author: Izabela Will
Is the relation between gestures and language conventionalized? Is it possible to investigate the backgrounds of the users by means of these gestures?
This book offers an in-depth analysis and description of five recurrent gestures used by Hausa speakers from northern Nigeria, examined from a cross-cultural perspective. The method based on studying naturalistic data available online (sermons, interviews and talk shows) can be applied to other languages with no speech corpora. Particular attention is paid to cultural practices and routinized behavior that affect both the form of a gesture and its meaning. Everyday activities, such as greetings and religious rituals, as well as social hierarchy and gender differences are reflected in gestures. The results show that gestures and language reveal the shared cultural background of the speakers and reflect identical cognitive processes.