This image depicts the world with animals on top to show the scope of animal language, displayed at 40% of viewport width.
January 2019 by V. R. Duin

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.


The animal language learning process and discovering how to understand animal language may help human language learning of complex communications.

Hat Trick? Scientists are studying animal signs, gestures and signals, such as lizard push-ups and head-bobs. The goal is to understand the extent of intelligence, understanding 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.


Going Places? Machines translate between human languages. This makes it possible for people to use other languages without learning 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 readily 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 search, indexing, retrieval and voice recognition. They are able to gather, file and recall the building blocks of language intelligence. Humans gain knowledge for extrapolation.


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.


Step by Step? Translation involves written words, symbols, signs and marks. Interpretation involves cross-language vocal 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 may be challenged to mimic animal sounds. Network linkage has quality, quantity and cost implications.


Sand Castles? Machines require human operators to complete tasks, make judgment calls as to context and differentiate small details to extrapolate precise meaning. Machines are expedient with repetitive tasks.


Animal Language Learning Process

Red Alert? Animal warnings are respected. People and other animal species respond to screeching squirrels or dive-bombing birds. 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 understanding.


People are mammals. 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.


Grass Roots? Animals seem to communicate with species of their kind. Intercommunications are easier to describe than decipher. Words for animal sounds include: barks, buzzes, chirps, clucks, growls, purrs and squawks.


Loud and Proud? Parrots are among a select few animals able to speak with meaning. Training a parrot to speak is stimulating for the bird and rewarding for the trainer. Their level of articulation is unrivaled in the animal kingdom.


Bright as a Feather? Parrots comprehend what people are saying. They may shed light on speech imitation. We mentioned Alex, the African Gray, in Bird Brains. Parrots and people share a special ability for vocal learning.


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 sounds. The eventual goal is to decipher distinctive, meaningful animal expressions.


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.


Close Look? Animals are complete without acquiring extensive human vocabularies. They are adept at interpreting plans, habits and emotions. They recognize a leash as walk time. Opening refrigerators or cabinets means food.


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 auditory cues.


Raising Standards? Animals seem to appreciate and impart emotions. They feel anxiety, pain, joy and sorrow. A dog may show guilt after eating homework. Animals display a present consciousness without vocalization.


Just Dessert? Training improves relations, establishes communications 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 lead to healthy relationships with other animal lovers. They teach awareness, compassion, discipline and patience.


Sharp Note? Tone and pitch of voice 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.


Partnership? Animal senses work for humans. Their keen hearing sense delivers advance warnings. Their scent-tracking ability guides search and rescue operations and signals pending storms. They give eyes to the blind.


Kick Back? People rarely attempt to learn an animal language. It seems easier to teach auditory learners to follow specific, vocal commands. People are challenged to duplicate the sounds or replicate the signals of animals.


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


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.


Long Story? Past and future events may be lost on animals, but they may not tell lies. Animal communications may evolve less quickly than human language, so humans may catch up with their cognition and learning abilities.

Complex Communications

Powerplay? Animal communications meet needs. A study published in University of Washington news on June 23, 2005 determined Chickadees' Alarm-Calls Carry Information about the Size Threat of Predator.


Some birds sound alike. Doves are mistaken for owls. There are rare reports of eagles feeding baby hawks (eyas) among their eaglets. Eagles eat hawks. Change of heart may come when captured eyas sound like one of their own.


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


Flight Calls? Most migrating birds vocalize while flying. In-flight sounds led to the flock name murmuration, which also means to make low, continuous utterances. Sounds encourage and orient others in tight formation.


Wing Songs? Bird wings vibrate in air, creating rustling sounds. Scientists track birds in flight by their travel sounds. Remote acoustic recording technologies require no intervention or transmitter placement on animals.


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.


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


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 emotional state?


Blurred Lines? Dolphin scientists dispute whether animal socialization have evolved into complex languages with repertoires of meanings. There are units of communication, per Stan Kuczaj. There are there none, per Justin Gregg.


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.