The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: The Nature Of Elaborate Communication Between Species Themselves  (Read 2798 times)

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
Hi All,

I was pondering...like sheeps do ...and

..Does anyone know which species (other than me and ewe).....has the most complex vocabulary ?..which I then would expect to equate to elaborate and extensive communication between themselves...

You see...I would expect something like an ants vocab would be in the region of, Eat, Build, defend, there' a food source here, lets move, procreate, attack etc etc....and other rudimentary basic almost instinctive set of protocols. I imagine, if one put their mind to it..that an ants vocab is far more elaborate than the few examples i have cited.

When I say ' Vocab ' by the way I mean all types of communication, pheremonal, touch, sound, sonar, radar etc etc...

I kind of wonder that Dolphins must be quite high, and whales.....

whajafink ?..and do ewe know ?...comprendez ?


 

lyner

  • Guest
It's definitely NOT teenagers (with the exception, possibly, of our esteemed younger contributors).
 

another_someone

  • Guest
Vocabulary is not a very easy term to apply.  The term applies to the number of different words one can use, but most communication is done (even amongst humans) without words, or where the words are incidental.

Simply using the word 'yes', can be said with excitement, in agreement, with a question mark at the end, or with sarcasm or irony.  Just one word in your vocabulary, yet so many different messages.  All of this is without even including what your body language can be saying.

Many years, nay, decades, ago, I was attending a course in Holland, and I had a suitcase with me because I was flying home in the evening.  One of the people taking the course came up to me, and asked (in Dutch) that I place my suitcase in the nearby alcove, which I duly did.  She then apologised (now in English) for absent mindedly using Dutch, but was pleased that I understood Dutch.  I pointed out that I spoke not a word of Dutch, but I understood from her tone of voice that she was asking me to do something, and her eyes first went to my suitcase, and then to the alcove, thus making clear what it was she was asking.  So how would you count that as vocabulary?
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
It's definitely NOT teenagers (with the exception, possibly, of our esteemed younger contributors).

No !...you were right first time !...it's ALL teenagers !! ;D
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
Vocabulary is not a very easy term to apply.  The term applies to the number of different words one can use, but most communication is done (even amongst humans) without words, or where the words are incidental.

Simply using the word 'yes', can be said with excitement, in agreement, with a question mark at the end, or with sarcasm or irony.  Just one word in your vocabulary, yet so many different messages.  All of this is without even including what your body language can be saying.

Many years, nay, decades, ago, I was attending a course in Holland, and I had a suitcase with me because I was flying home in the evening.  One of the people taking the course came up to me, and asked (in Dutch) that I place my suitcase in the nearby alcove, which I duly did.  She then apologised (now in English) for absent mindedly using Dutch, but was pleased that I understood Dutch.  I pointed out that I spoke not a word of Dutch, but I understood from her tone of voice that she was asking me to do something, and her eyes first went to my suitcase, and then to the alcove, thus making clear what it was she was asking.  So how would you count that as vocabulary?

THANK YOU GEORGE.

The very many variations on a theme are what I (poorly) referred to when I said that the term ' vocab' was to encompass all types of communication.

You forgot to mention that the Dutch girl(in the style of Magnus Pyke !) probably pointed at the suitcase and then pointed to the alcove and then mimed and charaded (new word)the whole thing ! :)......though the visual cue of her eyes probably gave it away !........

..so...yes.....I agree wholeheartedly that a single word phrased a particular way can have many meanings..in addition to all the extraneous body language stuff too. This is why I suggested  that whales and dolphins may be in line as the next level down from humans as far as levels of communication between themselves....Though when I think of primates and DoctorBeaver with their ability to use tools also..it kind of opens it up to debate...

...but...this is why I am asking the question.....for opinions.
 

another_someone

  • Guest
Yes, but the underlying question still remains - how do you enumerate the number of ideas you can communicate?  The answer to your question demands just such an enumeration.

For instance, my example about the conversation with the Dutch girl really just has 3 ideas - 'that', 'there', 'do'; yet by the use of context, could be treated as equivalent to "George, please could you place your suitcase into the alcove beneath the stairs on your left!".

You say that even simple animals can express ideas such as "Eat, Build, defend, there' a food source here, lets move, procreate, attack etc.", but that is far greater range of ideas than were expressed to me in the above example.  The key was to utilise the context of the information to amplify its meaning - so "attack + food source" n the context of some prey animal in the locality is different from "attack+defend" or "attack+lets move" in the context of a threat.

The real issues are not so much about vocabulary, but about grammar, and abstraction of ideas.  When an animal says to another animal "attack+lets move", does the other animals respond "you what?", or does he understand that to mean - "give the guy a quick kick, and then run like hell".
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
*grins*.......so, I have to define my question to such a degree that there can be no risk of disambiguation before my question can even be answered ?

I'm just glad my question does not have the word "set" in it !!

How about we bypass the semantics ? and go straight for a good old huggable generalisation ?..I like those !! ;D
 

another_someone

  • Guest
I'm just glad my question does not have the word "set" in it !!

Well, I suspect set theory would come into it somewhere.  Information theory certainly does, and information theory would be bound up with set theory.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum


 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums