Human vs. Animal Communication IDB 157. Overview : What are the properties of human language? What is the difference between communication and language? What is cultural transmission? What is instinct and is it transmitted? Can other species acquire language?
From a 1966 article:
“The design features listed below are found in every language on which we have reliable information, and each seems to be lacking in at least one known animal communicative system.”
The Ortolan Bunting (found in Germany) exhibits various regional song dialects.
Humans are able to reflect. They are able to talk about, or reflect on language itself. Without this ability, we could not even talk about the other properties of language.Dogs are able to bark at each other, but they are probably not barking about barking itself!
Animal communicative sounds are closely correlated with their meanings:Think of a cat: grrrhissss meow screech! purrrr…. It doesn’t use a variety of sounds to express these conditions. These sounds always mean the one thing they mean.Vervet monkeys have 36 cries of warning for different predators, but…An animal’s “vocabulary” is finite. Limited.
Honey Bee Dance LanguageBees use intricate combinations of dance movements and tail waggling to communicate the location of nectar (food) sources to other bees in the hive.The dance is a figure eight with movements of the tail to indicate location in relation to the azimuth of the sun. Speed of waggle indicates distance.Has been studied by Janda (1973) to have linguistic (syntactic) properties.HOWEVER the language is finite – can’t create new moves or waggles to indicate “up” for example.
Some researchers devoted their time to teach a chimpanzee how to use human language- not successful
The sound of a well-trained parakeet saying the words "good morning" may sound barely discernible from a human, but parakeets do not talk in the same way humans do. Parakeets do not have vocal chords. Instead, they speak by directing the airflow to go through the muscles in their throat, recreating pitches and sounds that they hear in everyday life. Although parakeets may be considered intelligent birds because they can speak, they are only mimicking phrases they have previously heard, and do not know the meaning of these phrases. A very well-trained parakeet can be taught to say specific sounds or phrases prompted by a hand motion or vocal cue. Parakeets do not have real conversations and usually can only repeat a handful of sounds or phrases.