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reply to post by dontreally
First, there is way to little variation for dogs to be barking to each other anything other than primitive emotions back and forth. Im sure they appreciate the nuances of it greater then we can, but lets refrain from the disney anthropormorphisms and understand were talking about an animal.
Whilst I agree there is little variation in a dog's bark, being vocal is not their primary source of communication and or comprehension. A dog's olfactory system is it's primary source of communication to others of it's species. It is so incredible that a dog can smell several dog's scent while walking in the morning for a few seconds then take a nap in the afternoon and process each scent detecting much information about the owner of each.
They also have, like domesticated cats do, a type of body language they have developed especially for humans. They do not use this language with each other.
I believe animals are like the Native Americans address them: As people. The Wolf Person or the Ant People
But, on hte bright side, studies have shown the chimps to have a more photographic short-term memory. It allows them to see things precisely, as they happen, so that they can react.
from our perspective their sounds might seem random, but i dont think they are. for example with dogs, what sounds like 2 or 3 barks in a row to us, might actually be the transmitting of entire sentences to eachother "in their own language"
Originally posted by jonnywhite
We've examined the speech sounds animals make and for the most part we only found a handful of unique sounds. Most of them ARE random. The emotion and location of the sounds are a lot more important than the sound itself. Besides, we're also learning that long term memory is very important for language. The fact that we developed our long term memory might be the principle reason we developed a complex language while chimps are still hooting and banging their chest. But, on hte bright side, studies have shown the chimps to have a more photographic short-term memory. It allows them to see things precisely, as they happen, so that they can react.
I'm not saying they don't talk, but I think it's more improvised than our own is.
Dolphins, for example, don't display nearly the richness of language we subscribe to them in movies and fiction. The reality is that there's more going on than the words. And when you really think about it, their life isn't as complicated as our own. They don't write their language down either. So they may not need very many unique sounds to achieve the basics of survival.
Some language is more contextual. For example, in english, we might look at a friend who's preparing to eat and say "Give me your food." Using a contextual language, you might point at the food and say "food" and then point at yourself. In this case, a lot of the language is visual and not actually spoken. It's contextual and would not be easy to write down.
Sign language is similar. It's visual! Often times a word can mean more than one thing depending on the circumstances that surround it - your emotion, the look on your face, your gestures, etc.
I suspect a lot of animals use contextual language until they have written language.edit on 3-9-2011 by jonnywhite because: (no reason given)