The world of animal language
January 2019 by V. R. Duin


In the hot and balmy tropical weather.
Spanish and English came together.
Molly caught sight of her brother, Jim,
And excitedly called out to him.

Dolly the Parrot, a bilingual parrot, shows how to understand animal language and help human language learning for complex communications.

A few animals can speak with meaning. Parrots are among these special few. Training a parrot to speak provides stimulation and articulation that is not possible with most other animals.

Some animals are able to recognize commands in two or more ways. For instance, a dog may understand and respond to “come” and “here”. That same dog may answer to hand commands without words.

Imagine the possibilities if humans could comprehend animal language. This knowledge might help the human language learning abilities of people. It may be helpful for disabled individuals.

People learn a lot from animals. They are good judges of character. They lead to kind and healthy friendships with other animal lovers. They teach awareness, compassion, patience and responsibility.

Animal senses of smell, hearing and vision are put to use by humans. These keen senses serve as alarms. They provide guidance for search and rescue and serve people with special needs.

Mammals seem to enjoy closeness and companionship. They develop feelings, emotions and bonds. Mammals share gestures, movements, facial expressions, sounds and unspoken exchanges that guide understanding.

People are mammals. Dolphins appear to use names with each other. The names come as different whistles. The learning process of these mammals may be similar to the way people develop speech.

Animal warnings are widely respected. People and other animals typically respond to screeching squirrels or dive-bombing birds by leaving. Movements and sounds of one animal may benefit the safety of others.

Animals seem to communicate with others of their kind. These intercommunications are easier to describe than to decipher. Words for animal sounds include: chirps, screeches, growls, barks, buzzes and many more.

Animals may not be interested in fully learning human languages. They often interpret human words, plans, habits and emotions. They may know a leash means walk time. An open refrigerator or cabinet means food.

Tone and pitch of voice are of great importance. Accents also aid human language learning. Kids learn questions go up at the end. “Going to the store?” Facts are flat. “Going to the store.”

People rarely try to learn to speak in animal language. It seems easier to teach animals to follow human language and commands. People are challenged to learn and repeat the signs and sounds made by animals.

Training may improve relations. Animals may not need to use words. Scientists are studying signs, signals and sounds. The goal is to understand the complexity of animal intelligence.

Animal communications meet needs. A study published in the University of Washington news on June 23, 2005 established that Chickadees' Alarm-Calls Carry Information about the Size Threat of Predator.

Animals seem to understand other species. Listeners of sounds of distress or alarm made by one species may cause others to take cover or take advantage. Lizards use push-ups, head-bobs and other signals to send messages.

Parrots comprehend what people are saying. Talking birds may help people understand how language is learned. We mentioned Alex, the African Gray parrot, in Bird Brains.

Some animals can communicate in sign language. The death of Koko the Gorilla on June 19, 2018 was a sad loss. Francine “Penny” Patterson documented Koko's ability to use signs for words.

Only humans are able to do some things. They publish, market, promote and sell inventions. They store, exchange and develop information. People develop unique creative and technological advances.

Animals are smart and inventive. Animal communications seem to be limited. They work alone or as teams to find and store food. They generally combine resources for purposes involving reproduction, safety and shelter.

Machines are used to translate between written human languages. This makes it possible for people to use other languages without learning them. The language learning process of machines is advanced.

Machines make predictions based on past experiences with data. They are used to detect sounds for security purposes. They keep watch over prisons, health facilities, homes, offices and schools.

Machines are deeply programmed for search, indexing and voice recognition. When needed, people step in. Machines are able to gather, file and recall the building blocks of language intelligence.

Machines may become capable of converting animal language into human words. The sound recognition ability of machines is highly evolved and may be more accurate than that of humans or other animals.

People may be smarter than machines. A computer can hold and process huge amounts of data. The original real-world signals can be text, sound or video in nature. That data must be entered and manipulated by humans.

Translation involves written words, symbols, signs and marks. Interpretation involves cross-language exchanges of sounds. Constantine Slobodchikoff spent decades decoding dialects of prairie dogs between countries.

Machines are fast and cheap. They can create artificial sounds that trick humans into believing they are real. Humans may be challenged to mimic animal sounds. Communications involve quality, quantity and cost.

Machines require human operators to complete tasks. Humans are needed for judgment calls as to context and precise meaning. They can differentiate small details in meaning. Machines are better at repetitive tasks.

Machines eventually may decipher distinctive, meaningful animal sounds. Cats may sound like a crying baby, a screaming adult or a chattering bird. Machines may be used to build a data base of these sounds.

Human languages have been deeply analyzed. Artificial intelligence is used in collection, interpretation and generation of animal sounds. However, the programs are not fully developed or user-friendly.

The study of animal languages is only beginning. The purpose of animal communications is not clear to humans. Is there an animal language or do animals just use a system of signaling?

Leading dolphin scientists are in dispute. Animal socialization may not have evolved into complex languages. There are units of communication, per Stan Kuczaj. There are there none, per Justin Gregg.

Animals seem capable of appreciating and imparting emotions. Animals feel anxiety, pain, joy and sorrow. Animals may show guilt after eating homework. Animals display consciousness without language.

Machines may bridge the communication gap between humans and animals. Humans with animal awareness skills already can find career opportunities in animal health, rescue and wildlife management.

Animal language translation applications are available. According to Edward Vajda, some forms of Animal Systems of Communication may remain unintelligible in the future.