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LA STAMPA (Italy)

Worldcrunch

PISA - This story is a yawner.

You’ve been there before: standing in line or sitting around the conference table when some sleepy-eyed dude lets loose a big ol’ yawn, and you – tired or not – start yawning too.

Yes, yawns are indeed contagious. Research has shown that some 50 percent of humans who watch a video of someone yawning will quickly yawn in response. Sometimes just reading about it can set one off too. Did someone say: yaaaawn....??

Now a new Italian study digs deeper to find out just how contagious one yawn is from another, reports La Stampa.

Elisabetta Palagi, a zoologist at the University of Pisa’s natural history museum, notes that the causes of yawning are still not entirely clear, but that a yawn has developed a “social function,” and that people yawn more when they are in a group than by themselves.

The yawn, which is present in countless species, is only contagious amongst those with more advanced intelligence, where it has evolved into a mode of communication. More specifically, the follow-up yawn is an expression of empathy, Palagi says.

Tracking the yawning habits of both humans and Bonobo chimpanzees, Palagi’s team has concluded that the closer the relation to the yawner, the more likely that yawn will be contagious.

“The only important parameter of contagiousness is the type of relation that links the two subjects,” Palagi told La Stampa. “Nationality, gender, context are not important, only the quality of the link that unites the emitter and receiver (of the yawn).”

Thus yawns from close relatives are more likely to prompt empathetic yawns than from recent friends, and certainly from strangers, the study concludes.

An interesting finding in the study of the Bonobos is that the female chimpanzee species is more likely to let loose a yawn of empathy than the male counterparts. Initial conclusions on this front for humans are the same – women are more likely to yawn empathatically than men.

Needless to say, that conclusion is likely to provoke a different kind of yawn from some male readers.

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Society

Jehovah's Witnesses Translate The Bible In Indigenous Language — Is This Colonialism?

The Jehovah's Witnesses in Chile have launched a Bible version translated into the native Mapudungun language, evidently indifferent to the concerns of a nation striving to save its identity from the Western cultural juggernaut.

A Mapuche family awaits for Chilean President Gabriel Boric to arrive at the traditional Te Deum in the Cathedral of Santiago, on Chile's Independence Day.

Claudia Andrade

NEUQUÉN — The Bible can now be read in Mapuzugun, the language of the Mapuche, an ancestral nation living across Chile and Argentina. It took the Chilean branch of the Jehovah's Witnesses, a latter-day Protestant church often associated with door-to-door proselytizing and cold calling, three years to translate it into "21st-century Mapuzugun".

The church's Mapuche members in Chile welcomed the book when it was launched in Santiago last June, but some of their brethren see it rather as a cultural imposition. The Mapuche were historically a fighting nation, and fiercely resisted both the Spanish conquerors and subsequent waves of European settlers. They are still fighting for land rights in Chile.

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