Which Species Has a Language Most Like Human Language
In order to understand how our ancestors have communicated and how it developed into modern language, scientists studied communication of various animals. To differentiate human language from other systems of communication, a number of parameters have been developed known as Design Features of language (Bauer, 2006, pp.7-17). This essay, will look at five of the more important design features and use them as guidelines for establishing which species – vervet monkey, dolphin or dog, communicates in a way that is most similar to human language.
The design features to be discussed are: Semanticity, displacement/freedom from stimulus, productivity, dual articulation/duality of patterning and discreteness. Semanticity means that components of the messages are related to the real world in a fixed and specific way. Displacement or freedom from stimulus is the ability to talk about an object or event without it actually being there or happening at the time, for example, if something happened yesterday or if it is in another room. Productivity is being able to construct new messages on the basis of already known components. Dual articulation/duality of patterning means that messages can consist of separate elements; sentences are made of words, which are made up of sounds. And finally, discreteness, which indicates that these elements have contrastive, individual meaning (Bauer, 2006, pp.7-17).
Now lets analyse how the communication systems of the three animal species correspond with these design features. A significant limitation in this comparison is that, in the examples provided, the vervet monkeys are communicating with members of their own specie, while the dog and the dolphin are communicating with humans and in response to humans.
The vervet monkeys are said to call out to each other when they see a predator, using different calls to define different predators, like...