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Departmental Colloquium: Greg Bryant (UCLA) - 'The evolution of laughter and verbal play'

Greg Bryant
Wednesday, November 17, 2021, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

*** UPDATE: due to the Austrian COVID-restrictions, the talk is cancelled and is rescheduled till further notice. Thank you for your understanding. ***


The evolution of laughter and verbal play

During conversational interaction, speakers will use a variety of nonverbal vocal strategies to help them achieve pragmatic goals. These vocal signals often accompany verbal phenomena such as indirect speech, which often can be construed as a form of verbal play. One common such signal is laughter, which evolved from play vocalizations in our primate ancestors, and retains part of this communicative function in our everyday conversational interactions. Here I will describe some different lines of research that reveal some of the communicative complexities of laughter, verbal play, and social interaction. Overall this work points to one possible connection between linguistic pragmatics and nonhuman animal communication.