This image depicts the world with animals on top to show the scope of animal language, displayed at 40% of viewport width.
January 2020 by Terry Verduin

HOW TO UNDERSTAND ANIMAL LANGUAGE

In the hot and balmy tropical weather,
Spanish and English came together.
Molly caught sight of her brother, Jim,
and excitedly called out to him.


Discovering how to understand animal language and the animal language learning processes may help human language learning of complex communications.

Scientific Studies

Hat Trick? Scientists study animal signs, gestures and signals, such as lizard push-ups and head-bobs. Their goal is to discover the extent of intelligence, comprehension and creativity beyond sound and between species.


Yottabyte? Despite available animal language translation applications, Edward Vajda, language professor at Western Washington University opines Animal Systems of Communication may remain unintelligible to people.


Basic Instinct? According to Professor Vajda, birds are born to produce imperfect versions of their natural sounds, even when separated from their species. Humans learn language by exposure. This ability is not inborn.


Before Hatching? Bird embryos within bird eggs can receive vibratory warnings of predation risk from adults and other eggs in the nest, according to a study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution on July 22, 2019.

Machine Precision and Speed

Going Places? Machines translate between human languages. This makes it possible for people to use foreign tongues without acquiring them. The language learning process of machines has advanced beyond set responses.


Up to Par? Machines may bridge communication gaps between humans and animals. Humans with animal awareness skills already find rewarding career opportunities in veterinary health and wildlife management professions.


Color Guard? Machines make predictions based on past data. They detect sounds for security purposes and evaluate patterns to solve crimes. They keep watch over prisons, health facilities, homes, offices and schools.


Solid State? Machines are deeply programmed for data search, indexing, retrieval and voice recognition. As they gather, file and recall the building blocks of language intelligence, humans expand awareness of the unknown.


Bucket List? Machines may become capable of converting animal sounds into human words. Machine sound recognition and simulation capacity are highly evolved and more accurate than those of humans or other vertebrates.


Long Story? Animal evolution occurs more slowly than machine advancements. Human science may draw machines level with nature's innate abilities. To develop genuine and sincere thought may add processing delay.

Translation

Multi-Lingual? Terry Verduin, fluent in English and Spanish, retains conversational command of written and spoken French. She understands Portuguese and Italian. With disuse, Arabic and Russian escape her memory.


Step by Step? Translation involves written words, symbols, signs and marks. Interpretation involves cross-language voice exchanges. Constantine Slobodchikoff spent decades decoding prairie dog dialects between countries.


Fast and Cheap? Machines can create artificial sounds that trick humans into believing they are real. Humans are challenged to mimic animal sounds. However, data linkage carries quality, quantity and cost implications.


Top Flight? Computers are highly functional with data processing. People seem smarter than machines. Original real-world signals of text, sound or video data must be entered, manipulated and validated by humans.


Sand Castles? Human operators complete automated tasks, make judgment calls about context and differentiate small details to extrapolate precise meanings. Machines are expedient with repetitive tasks.

Complex Communications

Red Alert? Animal warnings are respected. People and other animal species respond to screeching squirrels or dive-bombing fowl. Movements and sounds of one species can alert others to band together or scatter for safety.


Game Face? Mammals appreciate close companionship. They develop feelings, emotions and bonds. Mammals use common gestures, movements, facial expressions, sounds and unspoken exchanges to guide understandings.


Raising Standards? Animals seem to appreciate and impart emotions. They feel anxiety, pain, joy and sorrow. Dogs may show guilt after shredding owners' property. They display a present consciousness without vocalization.


Close Look? Animals are complete without acquiring extensive human vocabularies. They are adept at discerning plans, habits and moods. They recognize a leash as walk time. Open refrigerators or cabinets mean food.


Mammal Speech? Dolphins appear to use names with each other. The names manifest as different whistles. The learning process of these mammals may be similar to the methods used by people in speech development.

Speech with Meaning

Grass Roots? Creatures seem to communicate with species of their kind. The intercommunications are described rather than decoded. Words for these sounds include: barks, buzzes, chirps, clucks, growls, purrs and squawks.


Loud and Proud? Parrots are among a select few creatures able to speak with meaning. Training a parrot to talk stimulates the bird and rewards the trainer. Avian articulation potential is unrivaled in the animal kingdom.


Bright as a Feather? Parrots gain mastery of human words through a speech-imitation process. Alex, the African Gray, in Bird Brains, describes a special ability for the vocal learning shared by parrots and people.


Errata? Cats may sound like a crying baby, a screaming adult or a chattering bird. Machines may be used to build a data base of these effects. The eventual goal is to decipher distinctive, meaningful language expressions.

Symbols

In Focus? Some animals communicate in sign language. The death of Koko the Gorilla on June 19, 2018 was a sad loss. Francine “Penny” Patterson documented Koko's ability to correlate symbols with human-taught words.


Double Take? Some animals recognize command variations. For instance, a dog may understand and respond appropriately to “come” and “here” as well as answer to corresponding hand commands without spoken cues.


Birds of a Feather? Doves are mistaken for owls. There are rare reports of eagles feeding baby hawks (eyas) among their eaglets. Eagles eat hawks. Captured eyas sound like their own offspring. This may lead to remorse.


Fringe Art? Some birds mimic other avian species. African Gray Parrots, Blue Jays, American Crows and Australia's Lyrebird are celebrated mimics. Mimidae catbirds, thrashers and mockingbirds are classed for this ability.


Just Dessert? Training improves relations, transfers knowledge and gives directions. It inspires, motivates and rewards good behaviors. It reduces mistakes and unhealthy behaviors. It creates a balanced sense of teamwork.

Help Human Language Learning

Idea Lab? People learn from animals. They are good judges of character, recognize medical symptoms and help establish healthy relationships among animal lovers. They teach awareness, compassion, discipline and patience.


Partnership? Animal senses guide humans. They give vision to the blind. Keen hearing delivers warnings. Scent-tracking aids search and rescue. Barometric, electrical and mechanical sensitivity forecast storms.


Kick Back? People rarely try to learn animal languages. People are challenged to duplicate the sounds or replicate the signals of animals. Auditory animals are taught to follow specific, vocal human commands.


Extension? Imagine the possibilities if humans could comprehend animal language. This might improve the human language learning abilities of people. It may enhance educational potential for all cognizant species.

Training Methods

Trial and Error? With Operant Conditioning animals learn to control the consequences resulting from behaviors. Internal objectives accomplished with acts, or operations, in the environment, drive future actions.


Pushed to Learn? With Behavioral Conditioning learning comes by associations to outside stimuli. Behavior adjusts with outside objects, or rewards. Reinforcement hastens desired responses under designed conditions.


Learn by Watching? With Observational Conditioning learning is stimulated by watching, then imitating others. Outside information sparks initiative to perform behaviors proven possible for others.


Pushing Limits? With Metabolic Conditioning physical performance improves with structured work and rest. Training exercises are designed to maximize a body's efficiency, strength, endurance and possibilities.


Nobody Knows? Do animals exercise to keep fit? Dr. Lewis Halsey of Roehampton University raised this unstudied question in the Journal of Animal Ecology. ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 January 2016.

Animal Language Learning Processes

Party Line? Animals are smart and inventive, but their interactions seem limited. They work alone or as teams to find and store food. They combine resources for reproduction, safety and shelter purposes.


Sharp Note? Sound tone and pitch are important. Accents also aid human language development. Kids learn questions go up at the end. “Going to the store?” Facts are flat. “Going to the store.” Loudness may reflect anger.


Powerplay? A June 23, 2005 study published in University of Washington News determined Chickadees' Alarm-Calls Carry Information about the Size Threat of Predator. Animal communications seem geared for survival.


Blurred Lines? Dolphin scientists dispute whether animal socialization has evolved based on complex, mindful language sets. There are units of communication, per Stan Kuczaj. There are there none, per Justin Gregg.

Human Potential

Clean Slate? Study of gene markers and brain structures is beginning. The purpose of animal communications is unclear to humans. Are there animal languages or mere signals triggered by outside stimulus or inside emotion?


Master Class? Only humans seem capable of infinite advances. They publish, market, promote and sell inventions. They store, exchange and develop unique creative, mathematical and technological information.


In the Fold? Human languages have been deeply analyzed. Artificial intelligence is used to collect, interpret and generate animal sounds. However, the framework is not fully developed, integrated or user-friendly.


Body Language? The video shows chickens entering shelter. It is a courtesy of the author's daughter. At dusk the flock assembles, signaling the end of outdoor safety. The sounds are clucking and come on in. (34 seconds)


BIRDS COMING IN FOR THE NIGHT