Talking animal
For talking animals in folklore and storytelling, see Talking animals in fiction.
"Talking Cat" redirects here. For the 2013 film, see A Talking Cat!?! For the Rick and Morty character, see Talking Cat (character).
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A talking animal or speaking animal is any non-human animal that can produce sounds or gestures resembling those of a human language.[1] Several species or groups of animals have developed forms of communication which superficially resemble verbal language, however, these usually are not considered a language because they lack one or more of the defining characteristics, e.g. grammar, syntax, recursion and displacement. Researchers have been successful in teaching some animals to make gestures similar to sign language,[2][3] although whether this should be considered a language has been disputed.[4]
Possibility of animal language
Clever Hans performing
The term refers to animals which can imitate (though not necessarily understand) human speech. Parrots, for example, repeat phrases of human speech through exposure.[5] There were parrots that learnt to use words in proper context and had meaningful dialogues with humans. Alex, an African grey, understood questions about color, shape, size, number etc. of objects and would provide a one-word answer to them.[6] He is also documented to have asked an existential question.[7] Another grey parrot, N'kisi, could use 950 words in proper context, was able to form sentences and even understood the concept of grammatical tense.[8]
Researchers have attempted to teach great apes (chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans) spoken language with poor results as they can only be taught how to say one or a few basic or limited words or phrases or less, and sign language with significantly better results as they can be very creative with various hand signals like those of deaf people. In this regard, there are now numerous studies and an extensive bibliography.​[9]​[10]​[11]​[12]​[13]​[14]​[15]​[16]​[17]​[18] However, even the best communicating great ape has shown an inability to grasp the idea of syntax and grammar, instead communicating at best at the same level as a pidgin language in humans.[citation needed] They are expressive and communicative, but lack the formality that remains unique to human speech.[citation needed]
Research supports the idea that the linguistic limitations in animals are due to limited general brainpower (as opposed to lack of a specific module),[citation needed] and that words are created by breaking down sentences into pieces, making grammar more basic than semantics.[19]
Reported cases by species
Main articles: Bird vocalisation and Talking bird
"Talking dog" redirects here. For other uses, see Talking dog (disambiguation).
Main article: Dog communication
See also: Hundesprechschule Asra
An owner hears a dog making a sound that resembles a phrase says the phrase back to the dog, who then repeats the sound and is rewarded with a treat. Eventually the dog learns a modified version of the original sound. Dogs have limited vocal imitation skills, so these sounds usually need to be shaped by selective attention and social reward.[20]
Main article: Cat communication
Great apes
Main article: Great ape language
Great apes mimicking human speech is rare although some of them have attempted to do so by often watching and mimicking the gestures, and voices from their human trainers. Apparently, human voice control in non-human great apes could derive from an evolutionary ancestor with similar voice control capacities. These include chimpanzees and orangutans.
Main article: Whale vocalization
Some of the species of toothed whales like dolphins and porpoises such as beluga whales and killer whales can imitate the patterns of human speech.[28]
In fiction
Main article: Talking animals in fiction
See also
  1. ^ "Can any animals talk and use language like humans?". BBC. 16 February 2015.
  2. ^ Hillix, William A.; Rumbaugh, Duane M. (2004), "Washoe, the First Signing Chimpanzee", Animal Bodies, Human Minds: Ape, Dolphin, and Parrot Language Skills, Springer US, pp. 69–85, doi​:​10.1007/978-1-4757-4512-2_5​, ISBN 978-1-4419-3400-0
  3. ^ Hu, Jane C. (Aug 20, 2014). "What Do Talking Apes Really Tell Us?". Slate. Retrieved Jan 19, 2020.
  4. ^ Terrace, Herbert S. (December 1982). "Why Koko Can't Talk". The Sciences. 22 (9): 8–10. doi​:​10.1002/j.2326-1951.1982.tb02120.x​. ISSN 0036-861X.
  5. ^ Price, Hannah (September 15, 2011). "Birds of a feather talk together". Australian Geographic. Archived from the original on September 23, 2011.
  6. ^ a b Chandler, David (11 September 2007). "Farewell to a famous parrot". Nature. Retrieved Jan 19, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Jordania, Joseph (2006). Who Asked the First Question? The Origins of Human Choral Singing, Intelligence, Language and Speech. Tbilisi: Logos. ISBN 978-99940-31-81-8.
  8. ^ a b Kirby, Alex (26 January 2004). "Parrot's oratory stuns scientists". BBC News.
  9. ^ F.X. Plooij (1978). "Some basic traits of language in wild chimpanzees?". In A. Lock (ed.). Action, Gesture and Symbol. New York: Academic Press.
  10. ^ T. Nishida (1968). The social group of wild chimpanzees in the Mahali Mountains. Primates. pp. 167–224.
  11. ^ D. Premack (1985). 'Gavagai!' or the future of the animal language controversy. Cognition. pp. 207–296.
  12. ^ R.A. Gardner; B.T. Gardner (1969). Teaching Sign Language to a Chimpanzee. Science. 165. pp. 664–72. Bibcode​:​1969Sci...165..664G​. doi​:​10.1126/science.165.3894.664​. PMID 5793972.
  13. ^ R.A. Gardner; B.T. Gardner; T.E. Van Cantfort (1989). Teaching Sign Language to Chimpanzees. Albany: SUNY Press.
  14. ^ H.S. Terrace (1979). Nim: A chimpanzee who learned Sign Language. New York: Knopf.
  15. ^ E.S. Savage-Rumbaugh; D.M. Rumbaugh; K. McDonald (1985). Language learning in two species of apes. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 9. pp. 653–65. doi​:​10.1016/0149-7634(85)90012-0​. PMID 4080283. S2CID 579851.
  16. ^ E.S. Savage-Rumbaugh; K. McDonald; R.A. Sevcik; W.D. Hopkins; E. Rupert (1986). Spontaneous symbol acquisition and communicative use by pygmy chimpanzees (Pan paniscus). Journal of Experimental Psychology. 115. General. pp. 211–35. doi​:​10.1037//0096-3445.115.3.211​. PMID 2428917.
  17. ^ F.G. Patterson; E. Linden (1981). The education of Koko. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
  18. ^ H.L. Miles (1990). "The cognitive foundations for reference in a signing orangutan". In S.T. Parker; K.R. Gibson (eds.). "Language" and intelligence in monkeys and apes: Comparative Developmental Perspectives. Cambridge University Press. pp. 511–539.
  19. ^ Francisco Lacerda: A ecological theory of language acquisition
  20. ^ Adler, Tina (June 10, 2009). "Fact or Fiction: Dogs Can Talk". Scientific American. Retrieved February 19, 2015.
  21. ^ "the talking pug". Retrieved 2008-12-11.
  22. ^ a b Bondeson, Jan (15 March 2011). Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities. Amberley Publishing Limited. ISBN 9781445609645 – via Google Books.
  23. ^ Willingly to school: How animals are taught. Taplinger Publishing Company. 2017-06-09. ISBN 9780800883409.
  24. ^ Oh Long Johnson... - talking cat. June 11, 2006.
  25. ^ Saini, Angela. “The Orangutan Who Speaks like a Human.” BBC Earth, BBC Earth, 6 Apr. 2017, www.bbcearth.com/blog/?article=the-orangutan-who-speaks-like-a-human​.
  26. ^ "Conversing cows and eloquent elephants". fortunecity.com. Archived from the original on July 24, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-11.
  27. ^ "Kosik, Talking Elephant, Attracts Researchers And Tourists In South Korea". Huffington Post. October 11, 2010. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
  28. ^ "The Story of One Whale Who Tried to Bridge the Linguistic Divide Between Animals and Humans". Smithsonian Magazine. June 2014.
  29. ^ "Study: Male beluga whale mimics human speech". 23 October 2012. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014.
  30. ^ "Hoover, the Talking Seal". Neaq.org. New England Aquarium. Archived from the original on 2012-02-14. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
  31. ^ Josiffe, Christopher (January 2011). "Gef the Talking Mongoose". Fortean Times. Dennis Publishing. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
  32. ^ Chris Berry; So-yŏng Kim; Lynn Spigel (January 2010). Electronic Elsewheres: Media, Technology, and the Experience of Social Space. U of Minnesota Press. pp. 39–. ISBN 978-0-8166-4736-1. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
  33. ^ Is This Goat Talking? | Yahoo News
    In August, Lyndsey Hyde of Tennessee posted a video to Vine featuring a goat that sounds like it is saying "What? What? What?" The 6-second clip went viral with more than 7 million views on the video-sharing app.
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