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Cultural Evolution of Kinship Diversity: Variation in Language, Cognition, and Social Norms Regarding Family

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 VARIKIN project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the VARIKIN project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "VARIKIN" about.

accounting    phylogenetic    child    patterns    quantify    kinds    linked    macro    multidisciplinary    coherent    evolutionary    terminology    micro    languages    kin    ways    elicitation    framework    family    enduring    variety    historical    understand    participant    families    social    written    classify    interviews    cultural    context    drive    learning    linguistics    human    community    puzzle    differ    varikin    unity    individual    kinship    cross    eight    direct    cultures    children    whom    evolution    vanguard    directions    universal    evolve    small    societies    socialisation    terminologies    language    class    contexts    integration    engages    background    takes    investigates    asks    frequently    others    modeling    western    change    cousins    local    surveys    vary    dynamics    acquisition    history    organisation    positioned    prevalent    people    phylogenetics    observation    constraints    diversity    uniquely    norms    characterise    acquire    why    meanings    siblings    learn    worlds    united    classed    time    corpus   

Project "VARIKIN" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
postcode: BS8 1QU

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country United Kingdom [UK]
 Project website
 Total cost 1˙233˙672 €
 EC max contribution 1˙233˙672 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2014-STG
 Funding Scheme ERC-STG
 Starting year 2015
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2015-07-01   to  2020-12-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL UK (BRISTOL) coordinator 1˙233˙672.00


 Project objective

Why do human societies differ in whom they class as family? Why are cousins classed with siblings in some societies but not others? Accounting for the variable ways that cultures classify kin is an enduring puzzle. The VARIKIN project takes a cultural evolutionary approach to variety and unity and engages different fields–cultural phylogenetics, corpus linguistics, and cross-cultural child development. VARIKIN-Evolution asks how and why does kinship diversity evolve across cultures and over time? Using comparative phylogenetic modeling of cultural evolution we investigate the dynamics of how kinship terminologies and family norms change in eight language families. Are there “universal” patterns of change, or does local cultural history and context determine changes in family organisation? How do social norms drive change in kinship terminology? VARIKIN-Usage investigates how people use kinship language by using corpus linguistics, surveys, and interviews to quantify patterns of usage in spoken and written language. How frequently are kinship terms used in different contexts and what meanings are more prevalent? Do patterns vary between languages, and can the patterns of usage at the individual level be linked to historical processes of change? VARIKIN-Development investigates how children acquire and understand kinship across cultures. Using participant observation and elicitation tasks, we characterise children’s social learning of kinship in a small-scale, non-Western community. Are there cross-cultural patterns of acquisition? Can socialisation produce constraints on the kinds of kinship children can learn? These three research directions are united by a coherent framework for the integration of macro- and micro-evolutionary processes. With a highly multidisciplinary background, the Applicant is uniquely positioned to direct this vanguard project towards a comprehensive understanding of diversity in how we classify our social worlds.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2015 Asifa Majid, Fiona Jordan, Michael Dunn
Semantic systems in closely related languages
published pages: 1-18, ISSN: 0388-0001, DOI: 10.1016/j.langsci.2014.11.002
Language Sciences 49 2020-02-06
2018 Roland B. Sookias, Samuel Passmore, Quentin D. Atkinson
Deep cultural ancestry and human development indicators across nation states
published pages: 171411, ISSN: 2054-5703, DOI: 10.1098/rsos.171411
Royal Society Open Science 5/4 2020-02-06
2018 Jiří C. Moravec, Quentin Atkinson, Claire Bowern, Simon J. Greenhill, Fiona M. Jordan, Robert M. Ross, Russell Gray, Stephen Marsland, Murray P. Cox
Post-marital residence patterns show lineage-specific evolution
published pages: 594-601, ISSN: 1090-5138, DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2018.06.002
Evolution and Human Behavior 39/6 2020-02-06
2019 Péter Rácz, Sam Passmore, Catherine Sheard, Fiona M. Jordan
Usage frequency and lexical class determine the evolution of kinship terms in Indo-European
published pages: 191385, ISSN: 2054-5703, DOI: 10.1098/rsos.191385
Royal Society Open Science 6/10 2020-02-06
2019 Péter Rácz
Frequency and prototypicality determine variation in the Hungarian verbal 1 SG.INDEF
published pages: 601-620, ISSN: 2559-8201, DOI: 10.1556/2062.2019.66.4.5
Acta Linguistica Academica 66/4 2020-02-06
2018 Alice Mitchell
Allusive References and Other-Oriented Stance in an Affinal Avoidance Register
published pages: 4-21, ISSN: 1055-1360, DOI: 10.1111/jola.12174
Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 28/1 2020-02-06
2019 Joshua Birchall, Luis Henrique Oliveira, Fiona M. Jordan
Nota sobre o sistema de parentesco em Proto-Tupí-Guaraní
published pages: 79-99, ISSN: 1981-8122, DOI: 10.1590/1981.81222019000100006
Boletim do Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi. Ciências Humanas 14/1 2020-02-06
2019 Péter Rácz, Sam Passmore, Fiona M. Jordan
Social Practice and Shared History, Not Social Scale, Structure Cross‐Cultural Complexity in Kinship Systems
published pages: , ISSN: 1756-8757, DOI: 10.1111/tops.12430
Topics in Cognitive Science 4 June 2019 2020-02-06
2018 Vishnupriya Kolipakam, Fiona M. Jordan, Michael Dunn, Simon J. Greenhill, Remco Bouckaert, Russell D. Gray, Annemarie Verkerk
A Bayesian phylogenetic study of the Dravidian language family
published pages: 171504, ISSN: 2054-5703, DOI: 10.1098/rsos.171504
Royal Society Open Science 5/3 2019-09-02
2016 Kathryn R. Kirby, Russell D. Gray, Simon J. Greenhill, Fiona M. Jordan, Stephanie Gomes-Ng, Hans-Jörg Bibiko, Damián E. Blasi, Carlos A. Botero, Claire Bowern, Carol R. Ember, Dan Leehr, Bobbi S. Low, Joe McCarter, William Divale, Michael C. Gavin
D-PLACE: A Global Database of Cultural, Linguistic and Environmental Diversity
published pages: e0158391, ISSN: 1932-6203, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0158391
PLOS ONE 11/7 2019-09-02

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