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Thread: Animal speech

  1. #1
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    Animal speech



    Speech is defined as the ability to communicate thoughts, ideas, or other information by means of sounds that have clear meaning to others.
    Many animals make sounds that might seem to be a form of speech. For example, one may sound an alarm that a predator is in the area. The sound warns others of the same species that an enemy is in their territory. Or an animal may make soothing sounds to let offspring know that a parent is present. Most scientists regard these sounds as something other than true speech.
    Some animals can copy human speech to a certain extent also. Many birds, for example, can repeat words that they have been taught. This form of mimicry also does not qualify as true speech.
    True speech consists of two essential elements. First, an organism has to be able to develop and phrase thoughts to be expressed. Second, the organism has to have the anatomical equipment with which to utter clear words that convey those thoughts. Most scientists believe that humans are the only species capable of speech.
    Speech has been a critical element in the evolution of the human species. It is a means by which a people's history can be handed down from one generation to the next. It enables one person to convey knowledge to a roomful of other people. It can be used to amuse, to rouse, to anger, to express sadness, to communicate needs that arise between two or more humans.
    source:http://www.scienceclarified.com/Sp-Th/Speech.html

    So I ask myself if in X years it would be possible for animals to develop a similar speech like humans have. In all those million years of evolution we developed speech, so could animals do it too?
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    Yes. I understand the language of cats and dogs. Depending on what sound they make I can actually understand quite well what they want. For instance, if I hear a cat miauwing, without seeing him/her I can tell whether they want to be fed, go outside, be caressed or just say "hey". (no kidding) That's a form of speech to me.

    Now cats wouldn't be able to develop a speech as elaborated to thatof humans, because their cognitive abilities are much lower, and so they won't need to express some ideas or feelings.

    There is no coincidence in nature. Animals (including humans) communicate in the extend that their brain allow them to. If they have some thoughts they want to share, they will find a way to express it. If they never do, it's safer to assume that they don't have these thoughts.
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    They don't have the equipment for speech on the level of humans. Our organs are set up so that we can form hundreds of sound combinations, as opposed to a few hundred calls. If they were to ever develop speech they would need a physiology that would allow it as well as the cognitive ability.

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    I am not sure the ability to make "speech" is an over riding factor in anything. Why should sound be so important? There is more than one to communicat.

    I may say "look at that," and all my friends would understand and look at what I am referencing.

    One of my dogs however, would just freeze, lower its head, point its nose in that direction and focus on the point it was referencing -- and all my other dogs would take interest in the direction he was pointing at. Communication has been accomplished.

    In addition, deaf people sign language and they are not looked at as less than deserving of consideration just because they have not the ability to sound speech.

    My dog has no interest in the plots of Mission Impossible III or the life of Bhetoven because it places no value on it. Why should he feel any compulsion to communicate on those things with no interest or little value to him? If we can`t understand them in what they are communicating because we want to understand them, then the failings are ours. Perhaps we are not listening close enough to what they are saying.


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    They can only communicate on a small scale compared with humans, though.

    Human language is different than animal communication. There are characteristics in human language that don't exist as far as we know in animal communication. I'll have to find the list for you if you want it. But anyway, it includes sign language as a human language and doesn't just deal with speech and sounds. For instance, there are bees that do elaborate dances to show where a source of food is, something that involves no sound at all. But it's not on the same level as sign languages.

    I'm not quite sure what you're saying in your last paragraph, but there are animals who enjoy watching TV. They show an expressed interest in it, but they still can't talk about it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RockLee
    In all those million years of evolution we developed speech, so could animals do it too?
    We are animals. We could do it. Others could as well (& possibly have, though either not recognisable for us or on a smaller scale).

    Many animals make sounds that might seem to be a form of speech. For example, one may sound an alarm that a predator is in the area. The sound warns others of the same species that an enemy is in their territory. Or an animal may make soothing sounds to let offspring know that a parent is present. Most scientists regard these sounds as something other than true speech.
    Interesting article in that regard:

    Monkeys 'string words together'
    "The first evidence monkeys can string "words" together to communicate in a similar way to humans has been found.

    Putty-nosed monkeys in West Africa share the human ability to combine different sounds to mean different things, according to researchers.
    [...]"

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    That's pretty interesting. It looks from that like there's at least a morphology at work there. Who knows, that may not be the extent of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn
    They don't have the equipment for speech on the level of humans. Our organs are set up so that we can form hundreds of sound combinations, as opposed to a few hundred calls. If they were to ever develop speech they would need a physiology that would allow it as well as the cognitive ability.
    Some animals fo. E.g. some parrots can immitate the human voice (and other animal voices too). But they clearly lack the intelligence.

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    Yeah, I'm trying to remember where I heard that now...

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