Animals and Language

Topics: Chimpanzee, Alex, African Grey Parrot Pages: 3 (1015 words) Published: August 21, 2008
Birds, bees, bats, apes, worms, even humans have a communication system. We all share the art of language in one form or another. Some scientists say that language is what sets humans apart from every other species. Other researchers wonder if animals can learn the human language. What sets us apart from animals? What set us apart are the rules and grammars that we human have, which makes it not possible for animals to learn the human language. Another factor that contributes to why animals cannot learn human language or why people believe they do is due to the anatomic structure of animals and also due to operant conditioning. These factors will prove why animals cannot learn language. Many animals use gestures, grunts, dances, whistles, or even cry to send a message to their other members. Humans have an unbounded discrete combinatorial system. We are able to take many morphemes, combine them together to make other meaningful words. Also, humans have rules and structures which enable us to make sentences. Even with American Sign Language, this language has its own structures and rules. Most animals, such as chickadees, bees’ bats, and other types of birds, are bounded animals. These animals cannot construct new messages. Their way of communication is either through calling or singing. Another example would be the honeybees. Honeybees communicate through dancing. It is evident to show that honeybees do have a discrete combinatorial system. Honeybees are able to put together different dances to convey a message but they are bounded. Animals that have discrete structures are bounded and those that are bounded are discrete. A study was done on an African Grey parrot named Alex. He was taught many symbols, colors, and numbers. Alex did not have that intelligibility to construct long sentences. Alex had the same intelligence of that of a five year old. His level of intelligibility remained constant. After early attempts to teach chimpanzee’s oral language, many...
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