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C., training thousands future diplomats in anthropology and non-verbal communication.
Birdwhistell was part of a movement of linguists and social scientists interested in investigating culturally learned non-explicit communication.
Pioneering anthropologists and linguists Franz Boaz and Edward Sapir had early on realized that non-verbal behavior played an important part in human communication: in 1927 Sapir wrote that “the unwritten code of gestured messages and responses is the anonymous work of an unwritten tradition.” Sapir’s associate, George L.
Alan Lomax, who took two seminar courses with Birdwhistell in the early 1960s, was profoundly influenced by him.
In developing of his theory of Cantometrics, Lomax’s conception of song style as standardized communicative behavior owed much to Birdwhistell’s concept of communication as a systems-maintaining function.
Alan Lomax assessed the implications of Birdwhistell’s work for the understanding of music performance: 1970: pp.
86-87) was the first to point out that the major component of communication ¾ say of conversation - is not the new information conveyed (the fresh combination of words), but the stream of communication, itself.
They are to be found in the models that make a performance acceptable and around which the performers coordinate their activity.
In the end, one begins to see that the models of coordination and cooperation in singing mirror and support the key patterns of everyday co-action, so that in this way, art and social life are closely linked, tradition by tradition.
In the case of conversation, this stream comprises the fundamentals of the language which the participants speak and the steady signals they exchange about age, sex role, status, background, and cultural membership as well as the conversational situation.
Birdwhistell estimates that this “systems maintaining” framework occupied about 90% of the conversational stream.