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Animals and their way of communicating

Updated May 12, 2022
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For a long time, we as humans have been trying to figure out if animals actually use language and communication skills with other species of their kind. We already know that animals communicate in many ways. However, it is very complicated to explain if animals use language. Sometimes we forget that there is a difference between language and communicating. For instance, dogs tend to bark at other dogs when they are near each other. The dogs are communicating, but they are not using a language. We tend to think that they are using a language because we cannot translate what they are saying. Luckily, researchers have been able to explain this confusing concept.

Animals can communicate with each other. However, when they are communicating, they are not using language. Animals communicate with each other by using special techniques. These tenquices are called signals. “All animals have body parts and traits that enable them to communicate via signals”(“Animal Communication,” 2008). These signals are sounds, movement, touching, hearing, chemical marking, and much more. They use these signals to help them in the “wild.” It helps them when they are in danger, need to find a mate, hunt, and travel in certain directions. Animals have to communicate because it is necessary for their survival.

We know that animals have a unique way of communicating. For example, elephants communicate with a low frequency sound called infrasound. Infrasound calls can travel for miles through the air, land, or water to the animal’s species. Animals do not always need to use vocal sounds to communicate. They could use body language to communicate too. We know that dolphins whistle, hyenas laugh, wolves howl, monkeys touch, elephants trumpet, birds whistle, and bees “dance” but why? They do this to express what they want or how they feel without saying actual words to each other.

Animals do not communicate the same way that humans do. There language does not involve using names and structure sentences. “No other creatures have a true language except for us”(“Explainer: Do Animals Use Language,” 2014). Researchers have evidence to support this claim. A study showed that animal cells like barks, whistle, and clicks from species tend to be more complex than we thought. Researchers use mathematical tests to see how well the sequence of sounds for in complexity. Since most of the mathematical models came close to our speech patterns, researchers had to use “Markov Process” to fit the animal calls. Researcher, Kershenbaum said that “A Markov process is where you have a sequence of numbers or letters or notes, and the probability of any particular note depends only on the few notes that have come before”(“Explainer, Do Animals Use Language,” 2014).(“Explainer, Do Animals Use Language,” 2014). To test animal calls, Kershenbaum used animals like the wild rock hyrax, orangutans, furry rabbits ,and other species. He compared these animals and their calls to the writings in the book of “Hamlet” by Shakespeare. As a result, none of the animals calls fit in the Markovian model.

When we hear animals making noises, we assume that animals are talking to one another. For instance, certain species of monkeys have a distinct alarm call that goes with each type of predator they have. Scientists tried to figure out whether the monkeys were calling out words for “leopards” as a warning to the rest of their group. However, scientists noticed that after that leopard call, the group of monkeys would respond by running up into a tree, staring at the predator, and making the same call over and over. Evolutionary biologist, Tecumseh Fitch at the University of Vienna, who was not involved in the study said that “If it was a word, that’s just not what would happen. I think it’s more reasonable to say it’s a reaction to seeing a leopard”(“Explainer, Do Animals Use Language,” 2014).

Throughout my research, I learned that animals can communicate with each other. I also learned that animals do not use language at all. We always assume that animals are using language because we can not understand what the animals are saying to each other. However, there is a difference between communicating and language. Communicating is when animals are using vocal sounds or body language to display what they want or how they feel. According to Kershenbaum, he said that “to be considered a true language, a few elements are usually considered to be essential” (“Explainer, Do Animals Use Language,” 2014). In other words, animals can not learn human language because they are always going to follow their instinct. Humans are the only ones that know how to use language properly.

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