Dr Fred Cummins (Associate Professor, UCD)
Department of Study of Religions
Tuesday, 19 November 2019, 14.00-15.30
Mary Ryan Room (O’Rahilly Building) UCC
Chant, or more formally, Joint Speech, happens when multiple people utter the same words at the same time. This manner of framing vocal activity draws our attention to ubiquitous human practices that ground human societies: in ritual, prayer, protest, law and education, joint speech is a reliable index of the enaction of group identities. There is little formal study of joint speech that recognises this foundational role, yet I will suggest it has the potential to change what we might look for as we try to understand what it was that so profoundly transformed our species, but not our nearest ape relatives. The thematisation of joint speech shifts the discussion from Language to Languaging, in which many kinds of coordinative behaviours become manifest, and a deep continuity between language and music is revealed. I will illustrate many salient features of joint speech and I hope to make the theme relevant to a broad array of interdisciplinary concerns.