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Interspecies Soundscape of Language

Music is Language, Language is Music: Book

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Neanderthal's Gift Of Speech
Listen - Read Text

Animals have Linguistic Intelligence
Non Human Animals Have Intelligence, Culture, Emotion, Compassion and Language

Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer, coined the term soundscape in the 1960s and explored the impact of changes in the soundscape like urbanization and industrialization on our perception of our environment.

BERNIE KRAUSE Wild Sanctuary PO Box 536,
Glen Ellen,
CA 95442

THE BIOPHONIC MAN Guitarist, composer and analog synthesizer pioneer BERNIE KRAUSE left the recording studio to find that really wild sound. What he discovered was far more profound.

Bernie Krause coined Biophony which describes that portion of the soundscape contributed by nonhuman creatures.

Bernie Krause is one of the world's experts in natural sound, and here we listen through Krause's ears as he collects the sounds of purring jaguars, snapping shrimp, cracking glaciers--and the roar of the wild. It is an intensely personal narrative of life as it hits the ears, and of the planet's deeply connected natural sounds and music. Sounds from the Sea from land also see Nature Soundmap The Nature Soundmap offers unique access to the untouched and diverse wildlife that spans the globe, an experience that the Scout team could not pass up. In addition to high-quality audio, we enjoyed the articles within the newsletter that detail the remarkable travel ventures behind the recording process. We also appreciated that the site devotes itself to providing the best listening experience possible, offering tips on “How to Listen” and even a form for user suggestions. What does a humpback whale sound like? Or perhaps the White-cheeked Gibbon? The Nature Soundmap provides snippets of these sounds and much, much more.

Bernie Krause was a member of the Weavers with Pete Seeger Bernie is the Bass Player in the Video.

The Weavers " When the Saints Come Marching In"


Bernie Krause: The voice of the natural world

Biophony, Bernie Krause has theorized, is unique to each place; nowhere in nature sounds exactly like anywhere else. This idea has led him toward a controversial way of thinking that would broaden the scope of todays evolutionary biology. Many animals, he argues, have evolved to squeeze their vocalizations into available niches of the soundscape in order to be heard by others of their kind. Evolution isn't just about the competition for space or food but also for bandwidth. If a species cannot find a sonic niche of its own, it will not survive. Our distant ancestors, Krause claims, experienced the world through a more balanced use of their senses. Krause has been able to locate the sonic signature of each animal.
What you're listening to is an animal orchestra, very finely tuned and constructed and conducted there's no accident here, Krause says. They all coalesce in a way that's not planned but cooperative or competitive, one creature in relation to another. Every organism has an acoustic signature, Krause says. Warblers that failed to find unoccupied bandwidth failed to breed, Krause observed, eventually convincing him of the validity of his niche hypothesis, the contention that animals evolve to fill vocal niches to best be heard by potential mates.
Krause thinks ecosystems sounds are a key aspect of its health, and we are losing them. Krause has recorded the biophony and compiled a library of more than 3,500 hours of pristine natural sound, which he thinks is the worlds largest private collection nearly a third of the ecosystems he has captured have become aurally extinct because of habitat loss or the presence of noise-making machines. In this country, animals are continually forced to compete for bandwidth not only with one another but also with snowmobiles, off-road vehicles, Jet Skis and other loud motorized toys. Last spring he traveled to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to record the soundscape of springtime there - hear and see them. If we dont take the opportunity to form a baseline understanding of natural soundscapes, well lose part of our own humanity, Krause says. "These sounds taught us to dance, and theyre part of our language. I think we owe them something."

[sonic signature of children's voices.]

Resources: Acoustic Ecology, Earthear, Wild Sanctuary

Animal Behavior Archive
Macaulay Library contains 65,000 sound clips and about 18,000 video clips of birds and animals. RavenViewer allows you to get a visualization of bird calls; play the call and watch a waveform and spectrogram at the same time. Find "best of" -- long-distance communications, best of territory defense, etc.

The Memetic Origin of Language: modern humans as musical primates

Ape brains show linguistic promise
Three members of the family of great apes have a crucial speech-related brain feature previously thought unique to humans.

Primate Sounds

QY: Richard F. Kay ( (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. US 28 Apr 98 95:5417) (Science-Week 19 Jun 98)
It can be argued that language is the most important behavioral attribute that distinguishes humans from other animals, and one of the important problems in anthropology and human evolution is to demarcate as narrowly as possible the time frame during which language in humans first appeared. Such demarcations have been based on either apparent anatomical correlates (e.g., bone and soft tissue analysis) or apparent archeological correlates (e.g., analysis of apparent symbolic behavior), with no firm specific consensus among specialists. One of the important anatomical features related to language is the nerve supply controlling the muscles of the tongue. The mammalian hypoglossal canal is a bony canal that contains the trunk of nerve fibers that constitute this nerve supply. This canal is absolutely and relatively larger in modern humans than it is in the African apes. ... ...
Kay et al (3 authors at Duke University, US) report a study of the cross-sectional areas of hypoglossal canals in adult skulls of contemporary humans, African apes, and several key fossil hominids. They propose that hypoglossal canal size in fossil hominids may provide an indication of the motor coordination of the tongue and reflect the evolution of speech and language. What they report is that the hypoglossal canals of gracile Australopithecus, and possibly Homo habilis, fall within the range of extant African apes, and are significantly smaller than those of modern Homo. The canals of Neanderthals and an early "modern" Homo sapiens (Skhul 5), as well as of African and European middle Pleistocene Homo (Kabwe and Swanscombe), fall within the range of contemporary Homo and are significantly larger than those of Pan troglodytes (a chimpanzee species). In summary, the authors suggest these anatomical findings indicate the vocal capabilities of Neanderthals were the same as those of humans today. The authors further suggest that the vocal abilities of Australopithecus were not advanced significantly over those of chimpanzees, whereas those of Homo may been essentially modern by at least 400,000 years ago, which is consistent with the evidence for accelerated encephalization rates in middle Pleistocene Homo. The authors conclude: "Thus, human vocal abilities may have appeared much earlier in time than the first archeological evidence for symbolic behavior."


Whale algorithm could unlock secrets of their many dialects. Call it a whalegorithm. A computer has learned to suss out the different dialects of long-finned pilot whales. The approach is a step towards unlocking the secrets of how whales communicate with one another. Some marine mammals, like sperm whales, develop distinct songs that are particular to their social groups. Just as a human might pick up an accent or a set of idioms from their parents, so too whales have their own cultures of communication. Analysing whale song recordings can help us learn more about these differences.

Warbling Whales Speak A Language All Their Own
The songs of the humpback whale are among the most complex in the animal kingdom. Researchers have now mathematically confirmed that whales have their own syntax that uses sound units to build phrases that can be combined to form songs that last for hours.
Until now, only humans have demonstrated the ability to use such a hierarchical structure of communication.
The research, published online in the March 2006 issue of the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, offers a new approach to studying animal communication, although the authors do not claim that HUMPBACK WHALE SONG meet the linguistic rigor necessary for a true language.
"Humpback songs are not like human language, but elements of language are seen in their songs," said Ryuji Suzuki, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) predoctoral fellow in neuroscience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and first author of the paper.
With limited sight and sense of smell in water, marine mammals are more dependent on sound-which travels four times faster in water than air-to communicate. For six months each year, all male humpback whales in a population sing the same song during mating season. Thought to attract females, the song evolves over time.
Suzuki and co-authors John Buck and Peter Tyack applied the tools of information theory-a mathematical study of data encoding and transmission-to analyze the complex patterns of moans, cries, and chirps in the whales' songs for clues to the information being conveyed. Buck is an electrical engineer who specializes in signal processing and underwater acoustics at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and Tyack is a biologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. Full Text

Humpback whales have brain cells also found in humans The authors note that spindle neurons probably first appeared in the common ancestor of hominids about 15 million years ago, since they are observed in great apes and humans, but not in lesser apes and other primates; in cetaceans they evolved earlier, possibly as early as 30 million years ago. It is possible that they were present in the ancestors of all cetaceans, but were retained only in those with the largest brains during their evolution. "In spite of the relative scarcity of information on many cetacean species, it is important to note in this context that sperm whales, killer whales, and certainly humpback whales, exhibit complex social patterns that included intricate communication skills, coalition-formation, cooperation, cultural transmission and tool usage," the authors state. "It is thus likely that some of these abilities are related to comparable histologic complexity in brain organization in cetaceans and in hominids."
Whales can love - Researchers in New York have found that various types of whales possess the same emotion-producing brain cells as humans. The find has led some to believe that whales are capable of feeling deep-rooted love for one another. Scientists Patrick Hof and Estel Van Der Gucht of the New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology made the discovery after studying the brains of the gentle giants for 15 years. Hof and Van Der Gucht said they found the existence of spindle cells -- which have previously only been found in humans and great apes. The cells are believed to be responsible for producing feelings of love and attachment. "I really wasn't expecting this," said Hof. "I stumbled on one by chance and I said, this looks like a spindle cell. Then I saw them everywhere, and I immediately realized that we had something big." The spindle cells were found in several species of whale, including humpbacks and orcas.

Dr. Poole has studied Elephant language. Hear what and how elephant voices communicate on your computer. "Scientists analysed her unusual rumbles and found that they strongly resembled truck sounds in frequency and pattern. "These findings electrified me because no terrestrial mammals other than primates are known to be able to imitate sounds," said co-author Peter Tyack, from America's Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who normally studies whales. "Birds, bats, dolphins and whales do so, but learning of a whole new animal group capable of vocal learning is fascinating." [1] Find out more about elephant expert Dr. Poole.

'Uniquely human' component of language found in gregarious birds.
Although linguists have argued that certain patterns of language organization are the exclusive province of humans perhaps the only uniquely human component of language researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of California San Diego have discovered the same capacity to recognize such patterns and distinguish between them in Sturnus vulgaris, the common European starling. Hear A variety of bird songs

The Birds and the Bees
Challenging Chomsky, Starlings Learn Human-Only Syntax Patterns By Inga Kiderra
The European starling long known as a virtuoso songbird and as an expert mimic too may also soon gain a reputation as something of a grammar-marm. This three-ounce bird, new research shows, can learn syntactic patterns formerly thought to be the exclusive province of humans.

Parrot's oratory stuns Scientists - "The more we look at the cognitive abilities of animals, the more advanced they appear, and the biggest leap of all has been with parrots."
The finding of a parrot with an almost unparalleled power to communicate with people has brought scientists up short. The bird, a captive African grey called N'kisi, has a vocabulary of 950 words, and shows signs of a sense of humour. He invents his own words and phrases if he is confronted with novel ideas with which his existing repertoire cannot cope - just as a human child would do. N'kisi's remarkable abilities, which are said to include telepathy, feature in the latest BBC Wildlife Magazine.
N'kisi is believed to be one of the most advanced users of human language in the animal world. About 100 words are needed for half of all reading in English, so if N'kisi could read he would be able to cope with a wide range of material. He uses words in context, with past, present and future tenses, and is often inventive.
One N'kisi-ism was "flied" for "flew", and another "pretty smell medicine" to describe the aromatherapy oils used by his owner, an artist based in New York. When he first met Dr Jane Goodall, the renowned chimpanzee expert, after seeing her in a picture with apes, N'kisi said: "Got a chimp?" He appears to fancy himself as a humourist. When another parrot hung upside down from its perch, he commented: "You got to put this bird on the camera." Dr Goodall says N'kisi's verbal fireworks are an "outstanding
example of interspecies communication". In an experiment, the bird and his owner were put in separate rooms and filmed as the artist opened random envelopes containing picture cards. Analysis showed the parrot had used appropriate keywords three times more often than would be likely by chance. This was despite the researchers discounting responses like "What ya doing on the phone?" when N'kisi saw a card of a man with a telephone, and "Can I give you a hug?" with one of a couple embracing.
Professor Donald Broom, of the University of Cambridge's School of Veterinary Medicine, said: "The more we look at the cognitive abilities of animals, the more advanced they appear, and the biggest leap of all has been with parrots."
Alison Hales, of the World Parrot Trust, told BBC News Online: "N'kisi's amazing vocabulary and sense of humour should make everyone who has a pet parrot consider whether they are meeting its needs.
"They may not be able to ask directly, but parrots are long-lived, and a bit of research now could mean an improved quality of life for years.


Dr. Irene Pepperberg - Studies in Animal Behavior, and Animal-Human communications have provided insight into the capabilities of these animals to talk and to understand.
The adroit selection of the appropriate lexigrams in correct syntax by a chimp called Lana, as well as the simian's desire for new lexigrams for items not originally programmed into the computer, led to Rumbaugh's confident conclusion (1984) that apes learn language in a meaningful way (Craighead-George, 1985).

Essay: Evolving Language
Discussion between Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and Robert Karl Stonjek

Evolutionary Language Kanzi and Koko
Two nonprofits will mark Earth Day this month with the first online interspecies chat featuring Koko, the gorilla skilled in American sign language. Koko has a vocabulary of over 500 signs and understands almost 2,000 spoken English words. The gorilla has worked with Dr. Francine 'Penny' Patterson since 1972. KANZI

Speaking Bonobo
Bonobos have an impressive vocabulary, especially when it comes to snacks
To better understand bonobo intelligence, I traveled to Des Moines, Iowa, to meet Kanzi, a 26-year-old male bonobo reputedly able to converse with humans. When Kanzi was an infant, American psychologist Sue Savage-Rumbaugh tried to teach his mother, Matata, to communicate using a keyboard labeled with geometric symbols. Matata never really got the hang of it, but Kanzi-who usually played in the background, seemingly oblivious, during his mother's teaching sessions-picked up the language.
Savage-Rumbaugh and her colleagues kept adding symbols to Kanzi's keyboard and laminated sheets of paper. First Kanzi used 6 symbols, then 18, finally 348. The symbols refer to familiar objects (yogurt, key, tummy, bowl), favored activities (chase, tickle), and even some concepts considered fairly abstract (now, bad).
Kanzi learned to combine these symbols in regular ways, or in what linguists call"proto-grammar. "Once, Savage-Rumbaugh says, on an outing in a forest by the Georgia State University laboratory where he was raised, Kanzi touched the symbols for"marshmallow" and"fire. "Given matches and marshmallows, Kanzi snapped twigs for a fire, lit them with the matches and toasted the marshmallows on a stick.
Watch Kanzi comprehend novel sentences - phrases that preclude the learning of specific responses.
Savage-Rumbaugh claims that in addition to the symbols Kanzi uses, he knows the meaning of up to 3,000 spoken English words. She tests his comprehension in part by having someone in another room pronounce words that Kanzi hears through a set of headphones. Kanzi then points to the appropriate symbol on his keyboard. But Savage-Rumbaugh says Kanzi also understands words that aren't a part of his keyboard vocabulary; she says he can respond appropriately to commands such as"put the soap in the water"or"carry the TV outdoors."

The Gorilla Foundation <> was established in 1976 to promote the protection, preservation and propagation of gorillas. Project Koko, which began in 1972, is a primary focus of the Foundation. The project involves teaching a modified form of American Sign Language to two lowland gorillas, Koko and Michael. Event sponsors HEAVEN <> and the EnviroLink Network <> say the event aims to highlight advances being made in communicating with non-human primates as well as raise awareness to the plight of gorillas and the threats to their natural habitat in Africa. During the live chat, online participants will pose their questions to Dr. Patterson. She will sign them to Koko and then translate her answers to the online crowd.

Great Ape Trust - 21 page PDF

Monkey Talk by Rachel Jones 2/5/03

Claims that a pygmy chimp called Kanzi has developed the ability to talk hit the headlines around the world when they were published in the New Scientist (UK 2 January 2003). Although the BBC Online maintained an air of quiet scepticism - "Ape 'learns to talk'" - others were more enthusiastic, with the Times of India (2 January 2003) proclaiming "Speaking chimpanzee leaves experts amazed".
The researchers working with Kanzi, Jared Taglialatela and Sue Savage-Rumbaugh of Georgia State University, claim that the chimp spontaneously started making four distinct sounds, corresponding to the words 'banana', 'grapes', 'juice' and 'yes'. Kanzi, like other primates, can communicate by pointing at symbols - but this is the first report of an ape making sounds that have distinct meanings across different situations. According to the Straits Times (Singapore 3 January 2003), the claims "...challenge the long-held belief that apes have no language ability."
As the New Zealand Herald (4 January 2003) points out, scientists disagree over what constitutes 'language'. "Some linguists believe that even symbolic communication, which many chimps achieve, qualifies as language, but many now say some mastery of syntax is also required." In the New Scientist, Frans de Waal of Emory University spoke for the primatology community when he said, " Sometimes we feel it's a bit unfair that [linguists] move the goalposts as soon as we get near."
If the claims hold up, Kanzi will become as famous as Washoe, the chimp who first learned American Sign Language. Primatologist John Mitani of the University of Michigan commented, "There have to be evolutionary precursors to what we do. We are beginning to find them in the primate world." (New Zealand Herald).

Lab chimp speaks his own language 10:15 02 January 03 Exclusive from New Scientist
A bonobo has surprised his trainers by appearing to make up his own " words". It is the first report of an ape making sounds that seem to hold their meaning across different situations, and the latest challenge to the orthodox view that animals do not have language.Kanzi is an adult bonobo kept at Georgia State University in Atlanta. He has grown up in captivity among humans, and is adept at communicating with symbols. He also understands some spoken English, and can respond to phrases such as "go out of the cage" and "do you want a banana?"Jared Taglialatela and Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, who work with Kanzi, noticed that he was making gentle noises during his interactions with them. "We wanted to know if there was any rhyme or reason to when they were produced," says Taglialatela.So his team studied 100 hours of videotape showing Kanzi's day-to-day interactions and analysed the sounds he made at various times. They picked situations in which the bonobo's actions were unambiguous: for example, while he was eating a banana, pointing to the symbol for "grapes", or responding to a request to go outside by leaving the cage.They identified four sounds that Kanzi made in different contexts - banana, grapes, juice and yes. In each of these contexts, Kanzi made the same sound. "We haven't taught him this," says Taglialatela. "He's doing it on his own."

University chimp amazes scientists with own 'words' By David Derbyshire, Science Correspondent Full story
A chimpanzee has challenged the widely held view that animals do not have language by making up its own words from scratch. Kanzi, an adult bonobo or pygmy chimpanzee kept at Georgia State University, Atlanta, has come up with four distinct sounds for the things closest to his heart - banana, juice, grapes and yes. Although the choice of words may be a little predictable, it is the first report of an ape making sounds that seem to have the same meaning across different situations.

Ape 'learns to talk' Full text Wednesday, 1 January, 2003,
A chimp who has grown up among humans may have developed the ability to talk,claims a research team from the US. The findings, published in New Scientist magazine, may come under fire from other scientists. But they may further challenge the long-held belief that apes have no language ability. Kanzi, an adult pygmy chimp, is kept at Georgia State University in Atlanta, and, like many other primates, can communicate by pointing at symbols. However, researchers recently noticed that he was also making gentle noises while he interacted with humans. By studying many hours of videotape, Dr Jared Taglialatela and Dr Sue Savage-Rumbaugh spotted four distinct sounds that accompanied particular actions, corresponding to "banana", "grapes", "juice" and "yes". Even in different contexts, the chimp made the same sound.

Wednesday, 28 November, 2001, 20:07 GMT FULL TEXT
Ape brains show linguistic promise Three members of the family of great apes have a crucial speech-related brain feature previously thought unique to humans. This is the finding of a pair of researchers in Atlanta, Georgia, US, who carried out magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans on chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas.They say they were surprised no-one had looked for the crucial lopsided structure in great apes before. The discovery could imply that evolution of brain structures linked to speech began before the ancestors of humans and apes parted ways. Puzzling discrepancy Brodmann's area 44 is part of the Broca's area in the human brain.

Apes have same speech area in brain as humans By Steve Connor Science Editor 11/3001
Gorillas and chimpanzees possess a rudimentary speech centre within their brains that until now was thought to be unique to humans, scientists have found. Brain scans of the apes ­ man's closest living relatives ­ have revealed a small, lopsided structure buried in the front part of the head which in humans is critical for language. The structure, Brodmann's area 44, is part of the language centre known as Broca's area, and the scans reveal that it is larger and more developed in the left half of the ape's brain than in the right hemisphere ­ just as it is in humans. Claudio Cantalupo and William Hopkins, who conducted the study at the Yerkes Primate Research Centre at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, were surprised such a critical feature within the ape's brain had gone unnoticed.

Scientists Report Finding a Gene for Speech October 4, 2001 By NICHOLAS WADE
A team of geneticists and linguists say they have found a gene that underlies speech and language, the first to be linked to this uniquely human faculty. The discovery buttresses the idea that language is acquired and generated by specific neural circuitry in the brain,rather than by general brain faculties. The gene, which joins a handful known to affect human behavior, is of particular interest because its role is to switch on a cascade of other genes in the developing brain of the fetus. Biologists hope that by identifying these "downstream" genes, they may be able to unravel the genetic basis of human language.

Researchers Find Language Gene Wednesday October 3 2:59 PM ET By MARGIE MASON,
Scientists say they have discovered the first gene tied to a language and speech disorder - a find that may bring the genetics revolution closer to identifying the biological roots of conscious thought and defining what it means to be human.
The gene, FOXP2, is not specifically a gene that enables us to talk. Instead, it is responsible for a protein that enables the brain's language circuitry to function.The researchers say they discovered a mutated form of FOXP2 that is associated with a speech disorder that impairs movement of the mouth, lips and tongue and causes problems such as use of the wrong word tense. Some researchers suggest the discovery is a clue into the mechanics of cognitive thought, how babies develop into adults, and even how humans evolved from lower forms of life.

Culture Prefigures Cognition in Pan/Homo Bonobos
By Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, William M. Fields, Par Segerdahl and Duane Rumbaugh
In this paper we further develop our investigations into the ways in which Pan/Homo cultural living alters the development of the cognitive capacities of great apes. At this juncture we focus our analysis on the following three arenas:
(i) imitation
(ii) theory of mind
(iii) language.

Animal culture

Culture has often been viewed as that which distinguishes humans from animals (Povinelli, 2000, Tomasello, 1999, 2003). This view is more common among humanists than among biologists (Boesch, 1999: Savage-Rumbaugh, Williams, Furuichi, and Kano, 1996). Many psychologists, for instance, assume that while humans live meaningfully in shared cultures developed and maintained in collaboration, animals move instinctively and alone in environments. As such they cannot interpret in causal or mental terms; this is also held to be true for the highly social and intelligent great apes (Donald 2001, Povinelli 2000), though some psychologists have steadfastly disagreed (Rumbaugh, 2003). While cultural psychologists such as Bruner (1990) consider human cognition as a capacity formed by culture in early childhood, they perceive chimpanzee cognition as determined by genetic factors with limited ability for cultural influence (Tomasello 1999).




Von Frish won the Nobel Prize in 1973 for discovering "the language of bees" - using dance, direction and distance.

Subject: Re: Essay: Evolving Language
Date: Sun, 17 Jul 2005 20:06:
Discussion between Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and Robert Karl Stonjek