Mapping The Evolution of Language

Language is an ever-changing thing. If you’re not convinced, take a look at the changes in speech and language throughout the years.

download (7)Taking a further look back at the development of language, what can be found? Speech is considered a human trait, so whatever it took to create speech could have only been around as long as the human has been.

But what if speech wasn’t made just for humans?

In the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland, the idea of whether language is solely a human trait has been challenged by chimps.

According to the Discover magazine, Dutch chimps, brought over to the Edinburgh Zoo, soon adopted the Scottish chimp’s sounds, “which differed in their acoustic structure. Not only that, but the change only occurred after the immigrant chimps formed social bonds with their Scottish hosts, suggesting the Dutch chimps were learning the Scottish chimp language.”

“We argue that these data represent the first evidence of non-human animals actively modifying and socially learning the structure of a meaningful referential vocalization from con-specifics.” Researchers Stuart K. Watson, and others said. “Our findings indicate that primate referential call structure is not simply determined by arousal and that the socially learned nature of referential words in humans likely has ancient evolutionary origins.”

Even many cetaceans (whales and dolphins) are able to communicate with each other, by learning the other’s language.

Language is a fundamental part of communication. Understanding the ways animals interact could link us to a deeper understanding of how humans evolved with language.

Whether there is a clear link to human and animal language will be studied further, but it’s easy to see how clear the link really is.


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