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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.


Learning how to understand animal language may help human language learning. For instance, a dog may understand and respond appropriately to “come” and “here”. If humans could understand the animal language learning process, this might help complex communications.

Help Human Language Learning

Loud and Proud? Parrots are among the select few animals 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.


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


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


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.


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


Game Face? Mammals appreciate close companionship. They develop feelings, emotions and bonds. Mammals have 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.


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.


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.

Animal Language Learning Process

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


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


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. An open refrigerator or cabinet means food.


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.


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.


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


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.


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 that of humans or other vertebrates.


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


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.


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 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.


Complex Communications

Powerplay? Animal communications meet needs. A study published in the University of Washington news on June 23, 2005 established that 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 a baby hawk (eyas) with their eaglets. Eagles eat hawks, but may have felt remorse when the captured eyas sounded 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.


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.


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 the rare genetic trait of vocal learning.


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.


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 and combine resources for purposes involving reproduction, safety and shelter.


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.


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.


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.