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Switch to Forum Live View Songbirds Use Rules of Grammar
3 years ago  ::  Jul 10, 2011 - 11:01PM #1
solfeggio
Posts: 9,215
news.discovery.com/animals/finches-songs...

www.newscientist.com/article/dn20615-fir...

I found these two articles very interesting.  According to recent studies done at the University of Kyoto by Japanese scientists, songibrds have a sense of syntax in their songs.  In other words, they're using a type of grammar in their tweeting.

As one of the scientists noted, 'the order of syllables matters to birds,' which 'indicates the existance of a specific rule in the sequential ordering of syllables in their songs.'

Dr. Constance Scharff, animal behaviourist at the Free University of Berlin, has observed that 'More and more, we are seeing similarites between humans and animals, and that makes some people uneasy.'  (Italics mine.)       
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3 years ago  ::  Jul 11, 2011 - 12:03AM #2
MMarcoe
Posts: 16,404

When I listen to the cardinals outside my door with their 2-3 syllables followed by 4-5 differently timed and pitched syllables, I can only conclude that they are communicating meaning through grammar. It's almost like the first set is a direct address or declaration of intent, and the second set is a different declaration, or perhaps a persuasive argument.

There are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth.

God is just a personification of reality, of pure objectivity.
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3 years ago  ::  Jul 11, 2011 - 4:52AM #3
Ebon
Posts: 10,148

Jul 10, 2011 -- 11:01PM, solfeggio wrote:

news.discovery.com/animals/finches-songs...

www.newscientist.com/article/dn20615-fir...

I found these two articles very interesting.  According to recent studies done at the University of Kyoto by Japanese scientists, songibrds have a sense of syntax in their songs.  In other words, they're using a type of grammar in their tweeting.

As one of the scientists noted, 'the order of syllables matters to birds,' which 'indicates the existance of a specific rule in the sequential ordering of syllables in their songs.'

Dr. Constance Scharff, animal behaviourist at the Free University of Berlin, has observed that 'More and more, we are seeing similarites between humans and animals, and that makes some people uneasy.'  (Italics mine.)       



You don't need the italics, we don't generally eat songbirds.


Fascinating discovery though. Less for itself and more for the questions it leads to. For example, if they have a sense of syntax, do they have a language? I don't mean just in the sense of communication, we've always known animals communicate in the "watch out for that fox" sense, but actual language in the sense of communicating abstract concepts, that would be new.

He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. ~ Proverbs 14:31

Fiat justitia, ruat caelum

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3 years ago  ::  Jul 11, 2011 - 8:04AM #4
piecesofthewhole
Posts: 1,380

yes, this could lead to very interesting discoveries about communication and language.


 


:-)


 


life is so cool.

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3 years ago  ::  Jul 11, 2011 - 4:44PM #5
Erey
Posts: 18,690

I do find how animals communicate fascinating and I do believe they communicate.


However I wonder if the term grammer is not being abused here.  I don't think that term as I would normally use it applies here.

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3 years ago  ::  Jul 11, 2011 - 7:40PM #6
MMarcoe
Posts: 16,404

Jul 11, 2011 -- 4:44PM, Erey wrote:


I do find how animals communicate fascinating and I do believe they communicate.


However I wonder if the term grammer is not being abused here.  I don't think that term as I would normally use it applies here.





I don't know. Whenever they pause in their chirping, it's because they're thinking, "Is it I before E, or E before I?"

There are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth.

God is just a personification of reality, of pure objectivity.
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3 years ago  ::  Jul 11, 2011 - 9:19PM #7
mainecaptain
Posts: 21,783

I wonder what happens, when it is discovered that non human animals all have a sense of self, and can and do communicate complex new ideas.

A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side. Aristotle
Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow. Plato..
"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives" Jackie Robinson
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3 years ago  ::  Jul 11, 2011 - 10:15PM #8
Ebon
Posts: 10,148

Jul 11, 2011 -- 9:19PM, mainecaptain wrote:

I wonder what happens, when it is discovered that non human animals all have a sense of self, and can and do communicate complex new ideas.



The day it is proven that all food animals have not just sentience but sapience (no, they aren't the same thing) is the day I switch to Quorn for good.


(I actually eat Quorn all the time already)

He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. ~ Proverbs 14:31

Fiat justitia, ruat caelum

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3 years ago  ::  Jul 11, 2011 - 10:55PM #9
Iwantamotto
Posts: 8,210

And then naturally we'll realize that when plants release tannins or whatever, they're communicating pain and panic.  Since we supposedly have to argue sentience for zygotes/embryos/feti who have similarly primitive sensory mechanisms, we might as well admit that ANYTHING with such mechanisms are just as sentient.  I'm cool with that, but it still doesn't change the fact we must kill to survive.

Knock and the door shall open.  It's not my fault if you don't like the decor.
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3 years ago  ::  Jul 11, 2011 - 11:16PM #10
solfeggio
Posts: 9,215

Well, no, Iwantamotto, we human animals do not have to kill to survive.  Carnivores do have to kill to survive but, of course, we're not carnivores.


And, as I have pointed out countless times in various threads over the years, we human animals can and do survive very nicely eating plant materials that are not alive when we harvest them.  I'm thinking of fruits and vegetables like apples, pears, tomatoes, melons, cucumbers, pumpkins, etc.  These edible plant foods are effectively 'dead' when they fall from the branch or vine.


The whole purpose of their existence is to provide a medium for animals to disperse seeds.


We can and do eat nuts of all kinds, which are not 'alive', either, as well as seeds, which are certainly not living beings.


You might make a case for a living, breathing green plant like a rose bush or even a cabbage having feelings, but please don't try to convince any of us that a potato or a carrot feels pain.


In any case, whatever it is that living green plants and flowers might feel, it cannot be even remotely compared to what human and nonhuman animals feel when they are slaughtered.  You demean and belittle the pain of food animals when you even begin to intimate that there is a similarity.


I really hate to be getting into this topic of whether or not nonhuman animals feel pain yet again, but you brought it up.


 


 


 

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