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All animals communicate
Crabs wave their claws at each other to signal that they're healthy
and ready to mate
Cuttlefish use pigmented skin cells called chromatophores
to create patterns on their skin that act as camouflage
or warnings to rivals
Honeybees perform complex dances
to let other bees know the location and quality of a food source
All of these animals have impressive communication systems
but do they have language?
To answer that question
we can look at four specific qualities that are often associated with language
and displacement
Discreteness means that there is a set of individual units
such as sounds or words
that can be combined to communicate new ideas
like a set of refrigerator poetry magnets you can rearrange
to create different phrases
Grammar provides a system of rules
that tells you how to combine those individual units
Productivity is the ability to use language
to create an infinite number of messages
And displacement is the ability to talk about things
that aren't right in front of you
such as past, future, or fictional events
So, does animal communication exhibit any of these qualities
For crabs and cuttlefish, the answer is no
They don't combine their signals in creative ways
Those signals also don't have to be in a grammatical order
and they only communicate current conditions
like, "I am healthy," or "I am poisonous"
But some animals actually do display some of these properties
Bees use the moves, angle, duration, and intensity of their waggle dance
to describe the location and richness of a food source
That source is outside the hive
so they exhibit the property of displacement
They share that language trait with prairie dogs
which live in towns of thousands
and are hunted by coyotes, hawks, badgers, snakes, and humans
Their alarms calls indicate the predator's size, shape, speed
and, even for human predators, what the person is wearing
and if he's carrying a gun
Great apes, like chimps and gorillas, are great communicators, too
Some have even learned a modified sign language
A chimpanzee named Washoe demonstrated discreteness
by combining multiple signs into original phrases
like, "Please open. Hurry."
Coco, a female gorilla who understands more than 1000 signs
and around 2000 words of spoken English
referred to a beloved kitten that had died
In doing so, she displayed displacement
though it's worth noting that the apes in both of these examples
were using a human communication system
not one that appeared naturally in the wild
There are many other examples of sophisticated animal communication
such as in dolphins
which use whistles to identify age, location, names, and gender
They can also understand some grammar
in a gestural language researchers use to communicate with them
However, grammar is not seen in the dolphin's natural communication
While these communication systems
may have some of the qualities of language we've identified
none display all four
Even Washoe and Coco's impressive abilities are still outpaced
by the language skills of most three-year-old humans
And animals' topics of conversation are usually limited
Bees talk about food
prairie dogs talk about predators
and crabs talk about themselves
Human language stands alone
due to the powerful combination of grammar and productivity
on top of discreteness and displacement
The human brain can take a finite number of elements
and create an infinite number of messages
We can craft and understand complex sentences
as well as words that have never been spoken before
We can use language to communicate about an endless range of subjects
talk about imaginary things
and even lie
Research continues to reveal more and more about animal communication
It may turn out that human language and animal communication
aren't entirely different but exist on a continuum
After all, we are all animals



【Ted-Ed】原來動物們都有自己的一套語言!(Do animals have language? - Michele Bishop)

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SylviaQQ 發佈於 2016 年 8 月 1 日   Chen-an Hsiao 翻譯   Kristi Yang 審核



camouflage 是「偽裝」、「欺瞞」的意思。 military camouflage 即「軍事偽裝」,如同烏賊善用的偽裝術逃避天敵一般,減少被敵人攻擊的危險。迷彩亦發展成時尚元素,可簡稱為 camo ,如: camo pants、 camo jacket
The guerrillas were well hidden in the jungle as they utilized mud and leaves as camouflage to blend in with the environment.

Contrary to popular belief, chameleons change colors mainly to reflect their moods, and not just to camouflage themselves.

【泛科學精選】你有所不知的貓頭鷹 (True Facts About The Owl)

waggle 是「來回搖動」、「搖擺」的意思,可用在 ears, fingers 等等。與 waggle 相似的字為 wiggle ,是指「不規則地擺動」。
Waggle your arms and hands to reduce soreness in those areas.

The boy waggled his eyebrows at the girl to get her attention.

大歷吏 (How Did Our View of the Universe Change? | Big History Project)

finite 的意思為「有限的」,其反義詞 infinite (即「無限的」)較為常見 。finite 也可以用在 finite number/amount of ____ 的句型裏,形容 memory(記憶), space(空間), duration(時間長短) 等等。
Astronomers hold conflicting views regarding whether or not the universe is finite.

Fossil fuels are a finite energy source that has caused irreparable harm to the environment.

微軟CEO的精彩演講 (CS50 Lecture by Steve Ballmer)

continuum 的意思為「連續統一體」的意思    ,複數為 continua
Left and right political views are on opposite sides of the linear political continuum.





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