It's clear that animals have their own, simple ways of communicating: pheromones, mating calls, body language, to name a few. But can they communicate using human language? Sure, pets and show animals can be trained using verbal commands, but do they really understand what is being said? One remarkable example of human-animal communication is Alex, an African Gray Parrot.
Alex was able to count and identify colors, shapes, and sizes of objects. He was able to ask for certain foods and even made up a word for apples, "banerry," because they taste like bananas but look like cherries. By the time he died, Alex could speak almost one hundred human words.
What is striking about Alex is not that he was physically capable of forming words or that he had the ability to memorize them, but that he was cognitively capable of using words to communicate desires, solve simple logic problems, and answer questions. This last point is especially extraordinary, because answering a question requires one to actually understand what is being said. Looking at Alex and many other examples, humans may not be the only ones capable of using language as we once thought.
Morell, Virginia. "Animal Minds." National Geographic Mar. 2008. National Geographic. National Geographic Society. Web. 29 Feb. 2012.