“Turn-taking is […] a prominent type of social organization, one whose instances are implicated in a wide range of other activities”

(Sacks, Schegloff and Jefferson, 1974, p. 696).

The Turn-taking project

Human language is underpinned by a universal infrastructure — cooperative turn-taking — which has been suggested as an ancient mechanism bridging the existing gap between the articulate human species and its inarticulate primate cousins.

However, we know remarkably little about turn-taking systems of non-human animals, and methodological confounds have often prevented meaningful cross-species comparison.

The 'missing' link in language evolution?

The project 'Taking turns: The ‘missing’ link in language evolution?' funded by an ERC-Consolidator Grant of the EU 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.

It will identify which hallmarks of human turn-taking are shared across different primate species, and which key components of relationship quality act upon turn-taking skills.