Dolphin Cognition and Behavior: A Comparative Approach

By Ronald J. Schusterman; Jeanette A. Thomas et al. | Go to book overview

hazardous. Formalized interactions "bracket" ( Goffman 1974) such events, setting them apart. The more extensive examples provide formats, with properties and bounds expected and accepted by each participant. They permit control to be shared as order is imposed and facilitate negotiation of disparities and the pace and direction of development toward some mutually acceptable state.

By adhering to the preestablished constraints of formalized interactions, participants reveal both their readiness to interact cooperatively and the way they will proceed. They specify and limit the extent and kinds of social access each will grant the others and the nature of accommodation. They thus enable individuals to join one another, to elicit information about each other's predispositions and expectations, to manage events that would otherwise be excessively unpredictable, and to begin new relationships or reaffirm, test, or alter existing ones. And all this can be done during performance of the extended signal units.


CONCLUSIONS

Although each of the repertoires appears to be limited in scope, the kinds of limitations differ among them. Their combined operation can yield rich communication. And, in any signaling performance, items from at least two and at times all of the different repertoires are brought to bear.

We cannot comprehend or analyze complex signaling without distinguishing the contributions made by each repertoire. This is something I previously have not emphasized sufficiently. In earlier writing I described some of the diversification of signaling specializations as comprising "repertoires of display units and of grammatical rules" ( Smith, 1977, p. 423) and suggested that it was necessary to study the contributions of rules for the production of display units, variants of them, combinations, and formalized interactions, which yield "different classes of formalized information sources" (p. 464). Nonetheless, I developed a distinction among repertoires consistently only for the first and last presented in this chapter. Variation and combination were discussed in part as procedures that can make it difficult for ethologists to discern units of the basic repertoire of display acts. Although the importance of both as classes of formalized sources of information was stated (e.g., pp. 404, 408, 411, 423), the value of setting them forth as distinctive repertoires was not seen clearly. Yet it is just the recognition of such distinctions that may offer great promise as a conceptual framework for coming to grips with the enormous elaboration of dolphin communication.

By breaking down dolphin signaling into component units characteristic of the different kinds of repertoires, we can reduce the complexity that is now all but baffling. We could then distinguish the various units of each repertoire, what each repertoire contributes to dolphin signaling in different kinds of events, and how the characteristics of repertoires most used by dolphins influence the kinds of information in which they traffic.

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