d08b_animal_communication_key - Discussion Questions for...

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1 Discussion Questions for Animal Communication, Apes, and Language The video “The Mind: Language”, shown in week 7, has a section the beginning relevant to the communication systems of apes and a couple of relevant study questions, repeated here for your convenience. See key for week 7 discussion for answers. 1. (Week 8) What was the purpose of experiments such as those with Vicki, Washoe, and Koko? 2. (Week 8) How did Premack's experiments differ in focus from the ones mentioned in question #1? In what two ways does Premack believe his experiments have shown chimpanzees to be cognitively different from humans? 1. “Dr. Eugene Morton of the Smithsonian Institution has observed that regardless of the species, low and harsh calls signal a sender’s aggressive tendencies, while sounds that are high and tonal indicate the sender’s fearful or submissive state. Intermediate calls indicate intermediate tendencies.” ( ZooView , Quarterly Magazine of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, Spring 1989, page 15) Consider the sentence, “ Put the gun down ,” uttered by the following three individu- als in the in the respective contexts: (1) Clint Eastwood, who has the drop on a bad guy about to rob the unarmed stage coach passengers. (2) A movie director telling an actor what he will do as the next action in a scene. (3) A store clerk, ready to give the contents of the cash register to an armed robber. (a) How would the most likely way these sentences might uttered relate to the quote above? Clint would probably say the phrase in his "Make my day!" voice. This corresponds to the "low, sharp aggressive sound". The movie director would probably speak in a rather "neutral" voice. There would be no emotion attached. This corresponds to the "intermediate sound". The store clerk would probably cry out with a high pitched voice, corresponding to the fearful or submissive state. These voice qualities appear to correspond to the characteristics of animal calls, but in human communication, they can overlie the message itself, whereas in animal calls, the specific vocalization would probably be tied to the voice quality type, e.g. a chimpanzee could not choose to emit the pant-grunt in a high loud pitch on one occasion and a low agressive pitch on another. (b) Relate the quote and your answer to (a) to Pinker’s notion of showing differences in meaning using “analog” signals ( Language Instinct , page 342). These "voice quality overlays" for language are analog in the sense that they could vary in degree depending on level of emotion. (c) Why could the differences illustrated in (1-3) not be used to argue that language is an “analog” communication system?
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Animal Communication, Chimpanzees, and Language 2 The propositional content of the language would remain the same, i.e. the BASIC MESSAGE would not change. In an analog system like the bee dances, the speed of the dance, for example, communicates distance--the "propositional content" is actually affected
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This note was uploaded on 05/30/2008 for the course LING 1 taught by Professor Schuh during the Spring '08 term at UCLA.

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d08b_animal_communication_key - Discussion Questions for...

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