Apart from ourselves, we mostly talk about other people— language is mostly gossip. Evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar has proposed that gossip helped our ancestors to keep track of a larger number of social relationships than they could by direct observation and direct interaction. Talking proved more efficient than grooming as a way of servicing our friendships. This view of gossip as "social grooming" explains why gossip includes so many sympathy displays. The idea that gossip helps to manage large numbers of relationships clarifies why gossip sometimes sounds like a fairly methodical review of the state of every social relationship known to both speakers.
However, gossip has other features that may be better explained as status displays, and sometimes even courtship displays. Jean-Louis Dessalles has pointed out that a speaker's
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