Primates and Language

Primates and Language - Primates and Language “‘The use...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Primates and Language “‘The use of language for thought vastly amplifies the level of intelligence that can be achieved […] Unlike animals, people have ways of representing hypothetical and highly abstract situations to themselves. This is only because we possess spoken language that our technology and culture are so much advanced’” (R.E. Passingham, Burling 36). The complex languages that humans have acquired have created a distinct difference between themselves and the rest of the animal world. With the use of language, humans can interact with others at a level that is not comparable even to apes, the animal with the most comparable level of communication of the animal kingdom. I feel that it is irrational to search for a relationship between human language and primate calls, even though many researchers, such as Cheney and Seyfarth, are searching for the “language-like aspects of primate calls” (Burling 27). However, I do feel that there is a significant relationship between primate calls and human nonverbal communication. To find relationships between human and primate communication, human communication must first be defined accurately before comparing the two. In human communication there are two basic categories: [Language is characterized] by pervasive contrast […and] gives [humans] tens of thousands of absolutely distinct words. There is no limit on the number of absolutely distinct sentences that [humans] can create. Graded intermediate positions between the distinctive sounds, words, and sentences of a language are impossible. The result is a digital system of communication constructed from contrasting signals. (Burling 28) In language, there are distinct words to describe emotions, actions, moods, etc; therefore, it can be described as a digital system of communication. Language is a form of communication that must be learned. This means that each person’s form of language will be dependent on the community that surrounds the individual. The second form of human communication is known as the “gesture-call system”, which consists of communication techniques that are nonverbal. The “gesture-call system” includes both visible and audible types of communication. This includes laughs, sobs, smiles, screams, and sighs. “All humans share these as a result of their common genetic inheritance” (Burling 29). This type of communication differs from language because these signals vary “in both form and meaning, along continuous scales” (Burling 28). In the “gesture-call system”, there are analogue signals that continuously differ and blend into each other, which does not happen in the digital system of language. For example, “laughs grade into giggles, giggles may grade into snorts, snorts into cries of objection, cries of objection into cries of anguish, and cries of anguish into sobs” (Burling 29). This
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

Page1 / 5

Primates and Language - Primates and Language “‘The use...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 2. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online