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Taking turns: The ‘missing’ link in language evolution?

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "TURNTAKING" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
postcode: 49074

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 Germany [DE]
 Total cost 1˙999˙795 €
 EC max contribution 1˙999˙795 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2017-COG
 Funding Scheme ERC-COG
 Starting year 2019
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2019-01-01   to  2023-12-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    UNIVERSITAET OSNABRUECK DE (OSNABRUECK) coordinator 1˙999˙795.00


 Project objective

Language — the most distinctive human trait — remains a ‘mystery’1 or even a ‘problem’2 for evolutionary theory. It is underpinned by cooperative turn-taking3, which has been implicated with highly sophisticated cognitive skills such as mindreading4. Some have claimed that this turn-taking system is uniquely human5,6, but others argue that it provides the evolutionary ‘missing link’ between animal and human communication7. This debate has been constrained by a lack of comparative data, methodological confounds that often prevent meaningful comparisons, and a lack of information on key components of social relationships8,9 that might strongly impact upon turn-taking propensities. Objectives. TURNTAKING will quantify turn-taking production and comprehension in human children, chimpanzees, and two distantly related species — geladas and common marmosets. It will apply a powerful combination of systematic behavioral observations, eye-tracking paradigms, and established measures from Conversational Analysis3,10 and Primatology9 that allow the same type of data to be collected and analyzed in directly comparable ways across species. This will provide the first rigorous test of whether cooperative turn-taking is uniquely human, ancestral in the primate lineage, or evolved independently in different species. TURNTAKING will identify which hallmarks of human turn-taking are shared across different primate species, and which key components of relationship quality8,9 act upon turn-taking skills. Outcomes. This project will found the field of comparative turn-taking, and provide pioneering insights into the behavioral flexibility underlying different turn-taking systems. It will go beyond the state of the art by exposing whether cooperative turn-taking is the evolutionary ‘missing link’ between our species and our inarticulate primate cousins, and whether pro-social behaviors drove its emergence.

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The information about "TURNTAKING" are provided by the European Opendata Portal: CORDIS opendata.

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