s-11 - Song Sparrow • Calls are innate mean danger or...

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What are the “words” of animals Human words are pairings between sounds (signs) and meanings. Are all sound and meaning pairs words? Vervet “language” warning calls have meaning Bird “language” songs have meaning Bee “language” posture and waggle speed have meaning How do these animal communication “words” differ from human words? What does the Vervet Eagle call mean? The English word “eagle” denotes the object eagle and the category of eagles . Thus we can talk about “eagles” without one being present The vervet “eagle call” is an indication that an eagle has been sighted. It is associated with the fear and need to escape danger from the sky. The call always brings these emotions to mind. Animal calls can be innate or learned, but they are automatic, fixed responses to stimuli Birdsong In terms of design features (cf. Napoli or Hockett readings), of all animal communication systems, birdsong is (functionally!) the most similar to human language.
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Unformatted text preview: Song Sparrow • Calls are innate, mean danger or congregate • Song is learned and is highly structured – notes, “syllables”, phrases that repeat • Songs have regional variation (dialects) • Songs must be learned during a critical period • Songs have a fixed meaning Bird Song Summary ■ Like human language ➤ Duality of patterning (individual notes are meaningless, sequence is all important) ➤ Dialects ➤ Babbling and critical period ➤ Controlled by left side of brain (although mechanisms completely different) ■ Different from human language ➤ Only males sing (females will if injected with testosterone!) ➤ Lots more variation than in human language (different species!) ➤ Designed for communication over distance ➤ Meanings very limited (to attract a mate, to repel trespassers) – Here I am; Let’s mate; There’s a predator nearby; I found food; I found water; The nest is over here . .....
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