Do Animals Talk?

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I've researched a few forms of animal communication and happened upon some very interesting and unexpected forms of communication between animals. The most shocking to me is that ants communicate using chemicals. Depending on the species, ants can release between 10 and 20 different chemicals from different glands on their bodies. The chemicals released can mean a variety of different things: signaling danger and even signaling that a fellow ant is dead. This is by far the strangest form of animal communication I have come across. I was also surprised to learn that lions have a roar to locate one another. This roar is softer than the one used as a warning to other animals.

Although I believe that animals can communicate in their own way, I don't believe these forms of communication are a language. I believe that language is the spoken word with meaning given to individual units of speech. Just because different species of animals can communicate and understand their own form of communication does not mean that they are using a language. The languages we use as humans are simply a form of communication spoken among our own species. In my opinion there is no such thing as animal language, but there is definitely animal communication. I refuse to believe that animals communicate through language until I hear words (other than a bark) come out of a dog's mouth.


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I like that you have brought up this topic in your blog. From the time I was very young, I always wondered what types of communication my dogs used with each other and other dogs they encounter. Like you mentioned with the lions, when dogs bark, do the different pitches and sound levels mean something to another dog who is listening? I agree with your statement that animals do not communicate through language, to an extent. Although they do not speak words, maybe these different types of barks and noises they make are a form of language that we humans are unable to detect.

A question I have is what if a dogs bark means different things when they bark at different pitches or the length of the bark is different and another dog understands the difference? Is that not a form of language? They must be communicating. Wolves communicate by making all sorts of sounds especially when they hunt. I believe this is communication but to what extent I do not know.

This is a very interesting point. I have always wondered if animals have a deeper meaning for communication than we see. When a dog barks, we know that they want something or are trying to do something, however, are they actually trying to tell us something? I do believe that animals have ways of communicating, but it is hard to think of them having strong communication skills like people.

I think you've made an incredibly interesting personal distinction between your personal definitions of language and communication. The way I see it, all species communicate using a language. Communication is a verb to me and language is the noun. Even if it's incredibly simplistic compared to our own, I would still define the methods animals use to communicate as language.

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This page contains a single entry by odde0051 published on March 18, 2012 9:28 PM.

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