Fred

This little blog is devoted to those occasions when many people say the same words at the same time.   I will use the term “Joint Speech” to refer to all such acts.  The most common sort of joint speech is undoubtedly collective prayer, found in pretty much every religion (correct me if that is wrong!).  The next is the chant found in protests and demonstrations.  Chanting is also part of the collective identity on view in sporting arenas, induction ceremonies, and beyond.  Joint speech is used for several purposes in educational situations (display, memorization, pronunciation training), and it is the basis for the competitive activity known as choral speaking.

I come to this topic as a cognitive scientist interested in speech, and I have been surprised to find that there is almost no science of joint speech, despite its ubiquity and its deep integration into practices of worship, protest, and education.  Speaking together is an older form of expression than writing, and has been used as a technology for bonding groups, and even for preserving texts, for thousands of years.

We often take speech to be the most public form of language, and we consider language to be central to minds.  Joint speech, on this view, might be taken as the public face of group intentions and feelings, thus providing a useful empirical example for discussing such notions as group cognition and group intentionality.

I have developed a laboratory version of joint speech I call Synchronous Speech, and papers on the topic (and others) can be found among my academic publications.

If you have an interesting example of joint speech, or are curious about the topic, I can be reached at fred.cummins@ucd.ie.

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