Claire Bowern and former students publish paper on Pama-Nyungan kinship

June 17, 2020

Former Pama-Nyungan lab member Catherine Sheard (lead author), department PhD alum Rikker Dockum, Claire Bowern, and Bristol Anthropology Professor Fiona Jordan, recently published a paper in the journal Evolutionary Human Sciences using phylogenetic methods to study the ways that different kinship systems change across the Pama-Nyungan family. They reconstruct the kinship system of the ancestral language Proto-Pama-Nyungan and investigate the dynamics of change across the family. They show no evidence for coevolution of grandparental terms and other social norms (such as post-marital residence). Finally, although kinship systems are frequently viewed as “systems”, the authors show that parts of the system change independently, shedding light on the evolutionary dynamics of closed-class lexical systems.

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