Doctor Dolittle's Delusion: Animals and the Uniqueness of Human Language

Doctor Dolittle's Delusion: Animals and the Uniqueness of Human Language

Stephen R. Anderson

Language: English

Pages: 366

ISBN: B01K0Q6ATI

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Can animals be taught a human language and use it to communicate? Or is human language unique to human beings, just as many complex behaviors of other species are uniquely theirs? This engrossing book explores communication and cognition in animals and humans from a linguistic point of view and asserts that animals are not capable of acquiring or using human language.Stephen R. Anderson explains what is meant by communication, the difference between communication and language, and the essential characteristics of language. Next he examines a variety of animal communication systems, including bee dances, frog vocalizations, bird songs, and alarm calls and other vocal, gestural, and olfactory communication among primates. Anderson then compares these to human language, including signed languages used by the deaf. Arguing that attempts to teach human languages or their equivalents to the great apes have not succeeded in demonstrating linguistic abilities in nonhuman species, he concludes that animal communication systems—intriguing and varied though they may be—do not include all the essential properties of human language. Animals can communicate, but they can’t talk.

Are You Dissing Me?: What Animals Really Think

The Artist's Guide to Drawing Animals: How to Draw Cats, Dogs, and Other Favorite Pets

Leopard

Animal Magic: My Journey to Save Thousands of Animals

The Cautious Canine: How to Help Dogs Conquer Their Fears (2nd Edition)

The House at Pooh Corner (Winnie-the-Pooh, Book 2) (80th Anniversary Edition)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and languages is every bit as principled as the relation of, say, geology to rocks, minerals, and mountains. Over the past century or so, a scientific understanding of human natural language has developed. It is specialized and technical in its relation to its subject matter, with methods and results that are not instantly apparent but are nonetheless well supported by a long tradition of inquiry. People sometimes are incredulous to hear linguists suggest that what they are doing is somehow

not be learned. This pattern is characteristic of a great many systems. It is responsible, for instance, for the development of numerous local ‘‘dialects’’: a given vocalization may have a range of possible realizations rather than just one, or a range of possible uses. Individuals may attune their choice from within such a range to the usage of those around them, even though the basic system develops in them without reference to the behavior of others. The claim of innateness in many

present, they do not in the end point to systems that are interestingly closer to English than, say, bird calls. We can certainly learn a great deal, though, by asking how our primate cousins communicate in their natural circumstances. Compared to bird calls, monkey (and ape) vocalizations, as systems, are rather similar. They comprise a limited range of signals, each of which seems to express some aspect of the animal’s internal state. The set of signals is innately determined, though in some

present, they do not in the end point to systems that are interestingly closer to English than, say, bird calls. We can certainly learn a great deal, though, by asking how our primate cousins communicate in their natural circumstances. Compared to bird calls, monkey (and ape) vocalizations, as systems, are rather similar. They comprise a limited range of signals, each of which seems to express some aspect of the animal’s internal state. The set of signals is innately determined, though in some

the tail, twitchings of the nose, movements of the ears, heavy breathing—all sorts of W 20 X 7067 Anderson / DOCTOR DOLITTLE’S DELUSION / sheet 33 of 367 Language and Communication things—to make one another understand what they want. Of course, the Doctor and I had no tails of our own to swing around. So we used the tails of our coats instead. Dogs are very clever; they quickly caught on to what a man meant to say when he wagged his coat-tail. —Doctor Dolittle and the Secret Lake What are

Download sample

Download