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Re: OT hominids (was: Why grammar is so complex a subject)

From:Paul Bennett <paul-bennett@...>
Date:Saturday, December 31, 2005, 18:47
On Sat, 31 Dec 2005 13:21:41 -0500, Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>

> Quoting R A Brown <ray@...>: > >> I understand that (some) social insects have sophisticated communication >> systems. Would these be called language, or does language have to be >> primarily vocal? > > AFAIU, the communication of insect likes bees is structurally very > different > from human language, so I'd be disinclined to call them language quite > apart > from the difference between vocal and gestural communication.
The last time I read anything about bee communication, bee "dances" provided nothing more than bearing and range information to nectar sources, in a stereotypical, formulaic way. That's IMO even less like language than birdsong -- at least some birdsong is capable of expressing more than one notion. Ants, on the oher hand, seem to communicate via something at least potentially approaching the complexity of real language; a combination of sign language, touch language and chemical language. As far as I know, though, it's even less well understood than bee dances or birdsong. I'd really like to get up to speed with the latest research on dolphin language. It seems they're capable of describing things using sonar "pictures", and that they have matrilinear personal names, as well as obviously having enough of a language facility to understand combinations of sign and vocal language from humans. Paul


R A Brown <ray@...>What is language? (was: OT hominids)
Herman Miller <hmiller@...>OT hominids