Language — what we have in common?

Once thought of differentiator between humans and other animals, perhaps we are now learning that language is something we have in common.

The New York Times reports from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that a study of monkeys in Africa finds them putting conditional suffixes on sounds—or shall we say words? Klaus Zuberbühler and researchers previously identified sounds with meanings when studying Campbell’s monkeys in the Tai National Park of the Ivory Coast. They now have shown that the monkeys modify their sounds to communicate further refinements of the sound meanings.

Now, I know that some suffixes on sounds are a far cry from Shakespeare, but it’s fun to realize that these guys have been communicating quite well while we assumed, in our hubris, that such communication was ours alone.

Donna Parrish
Publisher of MultiLingual, Donna Parrish is also co-organizer of the LocWorld conferences. Coming into the language industry from a background of mathematics and computer programming, she has an appreciation for the wizardry of language technology and an awe for linguists.

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