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LING 100 Final Study Guide

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Simon Fraser University
LING 100
Chung- Hye Han

Topic 8: Animal Communication Defining Signs - Communication relies on using something to stand for something else. Things that stand for other things is a sign. - The sign is a unit of communication structure that consists of two parts: a signifier and a signified. o Signifier: Form of the sign. e.g., word, scent, gesture, electrical frequency. o Signified: Meaning part of the sign. It refers to both the real world object the sign represents and its conceptual content. What is signified by a sign can be a concrete physical object, abstract idea, a perception, or a feeling. Types of Signs - Iconic signs o Somewhat resembles what they signify. o ie. A stylized silhouette of a female or a male on a rest room door, no smoking sign o Onomatopoeic words: buzz, splat, squish - Indexical signs o Point out what they signify typically by being a partial or representative sample of them. There is usually a causal link between an indexical sign and what it signifies. o The track of an animal, the presence of smoke. - Symptomatic Signs o A specific kind of indexical sign o Spontaneously convey the internal state or emotions of sender o ie. rise of body temperature when we are ill, outcry when someone steps on our foot - Symbolic Signs o Bear an arbitrary relationship to what they signify, but no inherent resemblance/casual connection to what they signify o Most words in human languages are symbolic signs o ie. colours used in traffic signs Structure of Signs - Graded signs o Convey their meaning by changes in degree o ie. voice volume, intensity of dogs’ barking, volume & speed of geese honking when they take off in flight, increasing fear in monkey’s facial expression - Discrete signs o Distinguised from each other by categorical differences o ie. words of human language, digital display of watches, traffic lights Signs in Animal Communication vs. Signs in Human Language - Signs in Animal Communication o little arbitrariness, largely iconic and symptomatic o largely innate and genetic, so acquisition of signs does not require exposure to mature system (exception of bird songs) o display of signs are mostly stimulus-bound, limited to communication about the here and now o not much discrete structuring  ie. dogs do not combine whines and barks to produce novel messages - Signs in human language o Largely arbitrary, symbolic, and discrete o Acquisition of signs requires exposure to a mature system o Displaay of signs are mostly deliberate and conscious in intent o can communication about here and now, as well as distant past and future Non-vocal Communication in Animals - Scent (dogs), light (fireflies), electricity (electric eels), colour (cuttlefish), - Posture (dogs), gestures (waving goodbye), facial expressions (yawn, smile) - Bees o dance: conveys information about location of food source, quality, distance from hive  SYMBOLIC o distance: round (6m or less), sickle (6-18m), tail wagging (18+m ) o direction: relative to direction of sun, angle indicates direction  INDEXICAL o quality: correlated with intensity of dance & number of repetitions of circling movements  SYMPTOMATIC o odor: hive-specific odor left at site of food source, also carry back traces of food source orders o communication: largely innate and pre-determined, don’t need to exposed to mature system Vocal Communication in Animals - Birds o calls are short note sequences functionally associated with events & activities: warn of predators, coordinate flocking & flight activity, express aggression and accompany nesting/feeding behaviour o danger call: cawing of crows o flight call: honking of geese o calls that serve same communicative purpose are often similar among different species of birds o songs:  main purpose to announce & delimit territory of male and attract a mate, generally only male birds sings  successive repetition of calls, or complex patterns of pitches that form longer repeated units/themes  sections of a song are combined in different orders by certain birds, but no evidence that recombination = different meanings o acquisition appears to be innate, but need exposure to mature system during early life stages, can acquire different song dialects when living in different dialect areas Non-human Primates: Prosimians - function of communication: to mark/announce territory, warn group members of danger, seek/maintain contact with mate or other members, social with other members - Prosimians: small repertoire of distinct vocalizations: noises & calls (graded and symptomatic) o Noises: single click, clicks/grunts, purr o Calls: light spat, spat, bark - Vervet Monkeys: larger number of signs (primarily symptomatic) with more graduation, also use some non-symptomatic signs as alarm calls o 3 distinctive & arbitrary calls that announce eagles/snakes/leopards o Cheney & Seyfarth @ Amboseli National Park of Kenya  monkeys respond without seeing the danger themselves - Chimpanzees: a number of graded calls, up to 34 distinct calls o hoot: signal location/greeting, rough grunting: in presence of favourite food source, pant grunting: social hierarchy o some evidence that signs in monkey & chimp communication systems are not totally innate, but involve some learning from exposure to mature system Animal Communication Systems vs. Human Language - arbitrariness: human language involves mainly symbolic signs; animal communication are largely symptomatic and iconic - displacement: humans can communicate something distant in time/space/imaginary; animals can only communicate about here & now - productivity/creativity: human language units can be combined to create infinite number of entirely novel utterances/messages; animals cannot (exception of birdsong) - duality of patterning: design of human languages involves combo of meaningless units  arbitrary signs (ie. phonemes  morphemes)  recombined to new, meaningful larger units  sentences; does not exist in animal communication system Attempts to Teach Human Language to Chimps - 1930s W.N. and L.A. Kellogg adopted baby chimpanzee Gua - 1950s Keith and Cathy Hayes adopted chimp Viki, manually manipulated her lips to produce 3 words - failure: chimps don’t have vocal tract capable of producing human speech sounds - Late 1960s: Allen & Beatrice Gardner taught Washoe ASL, not exposed to human speech, only sign language  130 signs @ 5 years old, can make combos - Francine Patterson taught Koko ASL  several hundreds of signs, several spontaneous combinations Attempts to Teach Language to Chimps through Symbol Manipulation - 1966: Anne & David Premack trained chimp Sarah to manipulate plastic chips of different colours & shapes  associated with English word  130 signs - 1970s: Diane Rumbaugh & Sue Savage-Rumbaugh taught chimp Lana to operate computer keyboard  lexigrams (9 arbitrary symbols) - 1990s: Greenfield & savage-Rumbaugh studied male chimp Kanzu, using same lexigrams & computer program as Lana Topic 9: Evolution of Language Language: Uniquely Human - distinguishes us from animals: social organization, tool making, technological advances, establishment and enforcement of social/moral laws, art, etc Early Theories - Bow-wow theory: language arose from onomatopoetic words; words = indexical signs - Ding-dong theory: language arose from sound & meaning; just “sounded right” - Pooh-pooh theory: language arose from sounds used to describe emotional states (pain, sense of danger, etc) - Yo-heave-ho theory: language arose from chants (ie. grunts) used during joint work Theories Based on Social Aspects of Language - function: transmit & maintain social organization - larger brain size = more brain power to remember who is leader/friend/inferior, etc Theory Based on Gestures - gestural “language” transferred to oral form when physical configuration of vocal tract made it possible - advantages: frees up hands, transmits more easily than gestures - BUT Broca’s area (relevant for grammar
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