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Originally posted by blocula
every day i listen to birds singing everywhere. are they just singing? or are they singing to eachother in their own language. i hear dogs barking all the time and i wonder, are they just barking because thats what they do? or are they actually talking to eachother, just like we do, only in their own language using their own words that we'll never decipher or understand? is it just like when i hear two people speaking chinese or german to eachother? i have no idea what they are saying, its just random sounds to me, i know they are talking with words that they understand, but i have no idea what they are saying. do all animals in this world, in the oceans, in the sky and on the land actually talk to eachother,to their own species, with words that have real meaning? that only they can understand? or are they just vocalizing random sounds? i find this a truely fascinating mystery that i never hear mentioned or discussed...
Campbell’s monkeys appear to combine the same calls in different ways, using rules of grammar that turn sound into language. Whether their rudimentary syntax echoes the speech of humanity’s evolutionary ancestors, or represents an emergence of language unrelated to our own, is unclear.
Either way, they’re far more sophisticated than we thought. “This is the first evidence we have in animal communication that they can combine, in a semantic way, different calls to create a new message,” said Alban Lemasson, a primatologist at the University of Rennes in France. “I’m not sure it has strong parallels with humans, in the way that we will find a subject and object and verb. But they have meaningful units combined into other meaningful sequences, with rules imposed on how they’re combined.”
Lemasson’s team previously described the monkeys’ use of calls with specific meanings in a paper published in November. It detailed the monkeys’ basic sound structures and their uses: “Hok” for eagle, “krak” for leopard, “krak-oo” for general disturbance, “hok-oo” and “wak-oo” for general disturbance in forest canopies. A sixth call, “boom,” was used in non-predatory contexts, such as when calling a group together for travel or arguing with neighboring groups.