Can Non-Human Animals Learn and Use a Human Language Abstract. Language is a phenomenon typical for human beings only. Numerous attempts of scientists to prove that animals can learn and communicate in human language failed. Animals may communicate on the level of instincts using signs which express simple natural needs. Some animals may imitate the human sounds, some may utilize the system of signs, but this can not be defined as language. Humans are the only creatures in the Nature who can communicate through spoken language.
The ability to communicate through own native language separates humans from animals. The ability of oral communication is provided by a number of factors, neuronal network of a humans brain and anatomical components necessary for speech. There is no any animal in nature which would posses both intricate arrangement of neurons, and the anatomical components necessary for speech (Brad Harrub, Ph.D., Bert Thompson, Ph.D., and Dave Miller, Ph.D.).
Language is a product of evolution of a man. But there is no any animal in the world which would be in a process of transition to the stage when it will be able to communicate by speech in the human understanding of this term. Some specific events should have occurred to enable a man to speak.
The mental ability of a human being defines the ability to speak and communicate in the conventional language. At the same time some animals have very high mental abilities but they are not able to use human language. Animals have their own language but it is not as complex and expressive as the human one. There are no distinct criteria of separating the human language from the animal communication. For example, chimpanzees and gorillas have been taught hand signs based on American Sign Language; however, they have never been taught its grammar (Wikipedia, 2005).
... of others. They claimed that animal language possess these “elements” thus human language and animal language have parallelisms. Some researchers use ... acquired the ability to use the language. (Johnson, 1995). There is no denying the chimpanzees communicate to each ... structure of chimpanzees, researchers shifted from vocal to sign language. Use of “keyboard” devices or lexigrams became ...
If we consider language as a form of communication some apes may be taught to communicate with people using simple gestures, but there is no one animal which could communicate by means of spoken language.
Language paved the way for all the special human abilities that we so value- self-awareness, higher emotion and personal memories (McCrone 48).
If we compare ourselves with our closest relatives the chimpanzee, we are 99% similar genetically. The amps use sound signal to communicate in groups but they dont depend upon the cries too much. They are quiet while monkeys are noisy producing various signals of different types of danger. The chimp is the noisiest amp but it uses only small amount of sounds the human vocal organ can produce. Chimps use a great variety of gestures and expressions to interact with each other.
They communicate within the group and this makes the chimps social animals. They are utilizing the face and body gestures to send the signals to their mates. The chimps are very social creatures and this is due to their high level of development comparing with other animals. They need to remember the position of each and they have certain social relations within a group. The speech organs of some animals may produce sounds similar to human speech. There are examples of vocal imitation in birds.
The imitation of birds is limited to sounds except of parrots which can imitate simple gestures (Blackmore, S. 1998).
Some primates may use the sign language to communicate with people. There were a lot of researches regarding the communication between a man and a chimp. Some scientists are confident that those primates are not developed mentally enough to speak. Experiments showed that this theory is not quiet correct.
The inability of amps to speak verbal language could be explained by their inability to produce the sounds. A final theory suggests that the vocal cords of primates are not capable of supporting the production of language (Lauren Kosseff, 2005).
Question 2: Language is the most influential form of communication. It is the most powerful instrument an individual can have. By definition, language is the use by human beings of voice sounds, organized in order to express and communicate thoughts and feelings. It is what has shaped our society into what it has become today, what has allowed our civilization to excel and progress into what is ...
There is doubt that chimps may understand people and reply by gestures but it can not be defined as language. There were experiments conducted with Washoe, a chimpanzee who was taught to sign by her caretakers, Allen and Beatrice Gardner. She was raised in a friendly environment in which she learned sign language both through imitation and instrumental learning. She was able to use signs in combination after learning only 8 or 10 signs. Washoe has demonstrated reliable use of 240 signs.
A sign is deemed reliable when its use has been recorded by three separate observers on 15 consecutive days. Her trainers have observed that Washoe mostly uses her signs to discipline her children and explain her concern about them (Lauren Kosseff).
But all these communications were based on the natural needs and can hardly defined as language. This fact proves that chimpanzees are developed mentally enough to learn human language of gestures partially, in terms of simple natural notions. The experiments with Koko, a female lowland gorilla showed that gorillas may learn sign language and communicate with people. During the course of the study, Koko has advanced further with language than any other non-human. Koko has a working vocabulary of over 1000 signs.
Koko understands approximately 2,000 words of spoken English. Koko initiates the majority of conversations with her human companions and typically constructs statements averaging three to six words. Koko has a tested IQ of between 70 and 95 on a human scale, where 100 is considered “normal.” Michael, the male silverback gorilla who grew up with Koko, had a working vocabulary of over 600 signs. In addition to intensive studies of vocabulary acquisition, the project has investigated spontaneous gorilla language use. This involves the study of innovative linguistic strategies, invention of new signs and compound words, simultaneous signing, self-directed signing, displacement, prevarication, reference to time and emotional states, gestural modulation, metaphorical word use, humor, definition, argument, insult, threat, fantasy play, storytelling and moral judgment. The depth and variety of gorilla language use has significantly exceeded initial expectations. Indeed, evidence has been found for the existence, in less developed form, of almost every aspect of human behavior (Koko’s World).
INTRODUCTION The importance of communication between animals cannot be underestimated. Through communication, animals are able to concentrate on finding food, avoiding their enemies, mating and caring for their young. The study of communication between animals and humans is a never ending fascination and a way to learn more about ourselves. The development of human communication is what makes us ...
But all these achievements were interesting as results of training only. Originally gorillas do not have any abilities to communicate in logic language. Amps can communicate with people, but their communication is restricted by the simple definitions. The primates unlike other animals have formed social life. They have certain hierarchy within the group with the distinct organization and subordination. They have certain communication social skills given them from the nature.
Some linguists state that the language is a unique feature of humans only and it is impossible to teach animals the human language. They argue that special neural circuitry needed for language evolved after man’s ancestors split from those of the chimps millions of years ago. As evidence they note how quickly children, unlike chimpanzees, go from cobbling together two-word utterances to effortlessly spinning out complex sentences with phrases embedded within phrases like Russian dolls (George Johnson, 1995).
Language is a product of mental activity. It is an instrument of communication derived from thinking. If we accept that the chimpanzees posses language skills then it means that they have strong cognitive habits, but the experiments show opposite. Their cognition is restricted by instincts. It terms of understanding humans and responding them, some animals have certain skills of communication. The origin of human language is in the nature of a man.
The abilities to communicate by means of speech are innate for humans. The fact that human infants exposed to a spoken language, learn it with relatively small effort without negative examples and explicit error correcting feedback during their first few years of life, supports the innateness hypothesis (Tei Laine, 2002).
There is a great difference between the human language and the animal communication. What is more, if we assume that the human language developed from the animal communication there are difficulties in defining the starting point because there is no intermediate stage of linguistic skills development. Human language and animal communication differ in their structure. In the human language the linguistic elements are arranged by means of grammar.
Throughout this course of study, the concept of language as the demarcation between animals and humans has prevailed. Further, as we have seen in our class readings, many claim that it is through language that our "consciousness" and "cognitive" skills are developed. Accordingly, these skills are necessary for us to interpret and conceptualize our world. What this infers is that because we have ...
Animals are not able to arrange linguistic elements into the structure of communication named language. Animals are not able to think abstractly. Their communication is restricted by the natural needs. On the level of natural needs the animals are able to learn human signals in the same way as some amps learned the sign language described above. But these amps were able to use it to communicate on simple things connected with their natural needs only. The humans are born with language capacities. Communication by means of language is the natural state for human beings.
The language in human understanding is not natural for animals and if they may indicate some language skills they are artificially acquired by animals and are not the natural state. In connection with this the conclusion can be made that they can learn certain separate signs but not the complex language system. Animals are driven by the natural instincts and not by the cognitive thinking. All experiments with amps put them in conditions when they had to learn signs and that learning was performed on the level of instincts. The amp training did not have any didactic character. It was performed using simple notions.
The results of the amp education do not prove that they may learn the human language in traditional understanding it as a system of communication. A human being has the ability of learning several languages while there were no experiments which proved that animals can learn several forms of communication. Generally the animals can not use the human language. They use the system of signs, symbols connected with their natural needs. They are not able to arrange signals into the sentences neither in their perception nor in expressions. They are not able to vocalize language due to their anatomical peculiarities. The human language has some specific properties which separate them from the animal system of communication.
The theories which have been developed in the natural sciences and the human sciences, more so than the other areas of knowledge, are generally accepted by people to be convincing and true. When analyzing why these theories are convincing, it is necessary to also consider the methods of verifying scientific theories. How do we verify that scientific theories are justified and accurate? This ...
There are no direct relations between the sounds and their meaning, though there are certain words which are based on onomatopoeia, for example roll, boost, chill etc. There are auxiliary units which does not have any lexical meaning but express the grammatical categories, ex. the auxiliary verbs, articles etc in human language. Human language has the category of tenses which are not available for non-human communication. The grammatical categories, even the simplest ones are not available for non-human communication. Animals are not able to express the phenomenon of language itself.
Animals may percept the linguistic phenomena as a set of separate symbols and this can not be defined as language. . Bibliography Brad Harrub, Ph.D., Bert Thompson, Ph.D., and Dave Miller, Ph.D, The Origin of Language and Communication, available at http://www.trueorigin.org, retrieved 21.04.2005 Language, Wikipedia, available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language, retrieved 21.04.2005 McCrone, John: The Ape That Spoke: Language and the Evolution of the Human Mind, New York: William Morrow and Company, 1991 Blackmore, S. (1998).
Imitation and the definition of a meme, Journal of Memetics – Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission, 2., available at http://jom-emit.cfpm.org/1998/vol2/balckmore_s.htm l retrieved 21.04.2005 . Lauren Kosseff, Primate Use of Language, available at http://www.pigeon.psy.tufts.edu/psych26/language.h tm, retrieved 21.04.2005 Koko’s World, available at http://www.koko.org/world/, retrieved 21.04.2005 George Johnson, Chimp Talk Debate: Is It Really Language? The New York Times, June 6, 1995, available at http://www.southalabama.edu/psychology/yates/Psych _120/ala.htm, retrieved 21.04.2005 Tei Laine, Language Learning and Language Evolution in Human and Non human Animals, 2002, available at http://www.cs.indiana.edu/hyplan/telaine/publicati ons/schoolwork/p717.ps, retrieved 21.04.2005.