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Propositional objects > Communication systems > Animal communication systems
2160Animal communication systems  
  • Animal communication is the transfer of information from one or a group of animals (sender or senders) to one or more other animals (receiver or receivers) that affects the current or future behavior of the receivers. Information may be sent intentionally, as in a courtship display, or unintentionally, as in the transfer of scent from predator to prey. Information may be transferred to an "audience" of several receivers. Animal communication is a rapidly growing area of study in disciplines including animal behavior, sociology, neurology and animal cognition. Many aspects of animal behavior, such as symbolic name use, emotional expression, learning and sexual behavior, are being understood in new ways. Species-specific systems of communication whose investigation can be carried out only through interdisciplinary effort by (behavioral) psychologists, anthropologists, biologists, linguists, and others. Differences and similarities between animal and human systems of communication provide the basis for hypotheses and theories about the origin and development of human language from earlier forms of communication in the animal kingdom. To be sure, the results of such comparative investigations and their interpretation are largely dependent on the given fundamental definition of language. If natural language is defined as a system of phonetic signs, through the production of which the speaker can express objects, states of affairs (including those that are not spatially or temporally present), and conceptual generalizations in symbols, then the ‘language’ of animals can be distinguished from human languages accordingly: (a) Natural languages are characterized by the feature of double articulation, i.e. complex linguistic expressions are composed of meaningful elements, monemes or morphemes, which in turn can be described as combinations of the smallest meaningful phonetic elements, phonemes. The signals of animal communication, however, can only be analyzed on the first level of articulation for form and meaning, but not as the combination of smaller, more formal elements. (b) Utterances in animal communication are generally reflexes of external signals, i.e. they are connected with released stimuli and thus are not produced intentionally. (c) The meaning of the species-specific signals is apparently known largely by instinct (indeed, in many animals such signals are completely instinctive), and thus do not have to be learned. (d) It is not possible to combine elements of a given communication system to fit new situations, though more recent investigations seem to indicate that chimpanzees may possess latent, though unexploited, combinatory abilities (see Marler 1965). (e) In contrast to natural languages, animal communication cannot express conceptual generalizations with symbols.
  • Gilliam 2011
  • Smith 1972
  • Katsiadakis Helen (AA)
  • Karasimos Athanasios (AA)
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