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Animal Communication - Do animals have a language? Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by

- Hockett's design features-

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.

Tutorial Questions

a. In each of the pairs below, one statement is typical of human language (HL) while the other is more charac­ter­istic of animal commun­ication (AC). Mark them HL and AC respec­tively.

i. The system produces an unlimited number of novel uttera­nces.
ii. There is a closed repertory of distin­ctive uttera­nces.
iii. The topic of commun­ication is present in the immediate enviro­nment of the utterance.
iv. The system is acquired by learning.
v. The system is transm­itted through genetic inheri­tance.
vi. The connection between signal and its meaning is arbitrary and conven­tional.
vii. The connection between signal and its meaning is iconic and natural.

b. Wolves express subtle emotions by different positions of ears, lips and tail. There are 11 postures of the tail expressing things like self-c­onf­idence, lack of tension, depres­sion, defens­ive­ness, active submission etc. This is a complex system! Suppose there were a thousand different emotion wolves could express in this way. Do they have language similar to humans? If not, why not?

b.While the outward expression of emotions can certainly commun­icate inform­ation about our mental states, these expres­sions lack the full complexity of a fully formed human language.
- emotion is something we use to commun­icate key experi­ences with others. We do this through many non-li­ngu­istic means, including facial expres­sion, touch, and tone (and of course music!). But forcing emotion to fit into a linear, time-s­equ­enced, gramma­tical linguistic format betrays the quality of the emotional experience itself
-Emotions are very broad and one can map to may different experi­ences, and don't come close to the well-d­efined, discrete units (phonemes, morphemes, phrases, etc...) that make up language.-

Charles Hockett's Design Features

In 1960, the linguistic anthro­pol­ogist Charles Francis Hockett conducted a pioneering featural study of language. In the study, he listed 13 design features that he deemed to be universal across the world’s languages. More import­antly, these features distin­guished human language from animal commun­ication.
1. Arbitr­ariness
2. Creati­vity/ Produc­tivity
3. Cultural Transm­ission
4. Discre­teness
5. Displa­cement