How And To What Extent Does Language Make Humans Distinctive From Other Animals?

1888 words - 8 pages

Most living creatures communicate in some way. Birds and whales sing, monkeys and chimpanzees chatter, dolphins click and squeak, even bees perform their elaborate waggle dance. Language however, involves arranging exact sounds in the correct grammatical order to convey a message. Sternberg (1995, p.345) defines human language as, "...an organised means of combining words in order to communicate." Clearly, human language is much, much more than arranging particular sounds. It is an outlet for our thoughts and desires, it allows us to convey our feelings, our hopes and dreams, we can even use language to deceive others or tell jokes. In fact, it is this complexity of human language that prompts researcher Sternberg to argue that language is solely a human ability. He comments, "Parrots may say certain words but they are not really using language . What they say is not organised and does not involve combining words to pass a message to others." (Sternberg, 1995, p.345)So can it be assumed then that animals do not possess this quality? Research conducted by Savage-Rumbaugh (1986) with bonobo monkeys may suggest otherwise and behaviourists such as Skinner (1957) would argue that language is learnt as a process of re-inforcement and therefore, "as a result, there is nothing special about language and thus no reason why language should not be learnt by other species." (Eysenck, 2000, p.245) Nativist Chomsky, believing language to be an innate human ability, disagrees. "If an animal had a capacity as biologically advantageous as language but somehow hadn't used it until now, it would be an evolutionary miracle, like finding an island of humans who could be taught to fly." (Chomsky, 1993, p.249)To appreciate how this unique quality makes humans distinctive from other animals it would be prudent to consider the criteria that categorises human language.Physically speaking, humans require a certain anatomy in order to create speech. The larynx is situated further down the throat which allows us to intonate clearly and produce different sounds. However, this physicality poses a greater risk of choking as food passes directly across the trachea. Other animals do not have this anatomy so therefore physically cannot speak. Evolutionary psychologists argue that for this to have evolved in humans over millions of years the advantages must far outweigh the potential hazards. They maintain that human language originated for a specific reason. The majority of time spent by our early ancestors would be foraging for food in a hostile environment, with little time for establishing bonds with their present groups. Primates communicate within groups by grooming, but obviously this is time consuming and can only be done on an individual basis. Dunbar (1993, p. 89) comments, "What language seems to do is allow you to overcome that barrier and use what time you have in a much more efficient way." Language allows humans to talk to several people at the same time. You can...

Find Another Essay On How and to what extent does language make humans distinctive from other animals?

How does power refect the choices people make? Refer and link to Monatna 1948 by larry watson, and 2 other texts of videos to support your answer to the question

1153 words - 5 pages perspective. The writer emphasises the main idea of choice through the characters used. He shows different choices people have, who are completely different to each other. Plot structure is used to show how much of an impact Wesley's choice on his whole family. It uses the aftermath of Frank's death to illustrate the impacts of choice through the broken relationships, of a once close family and well-respected family. Montana shows how power is abused

"All of the other Ways of Knowing are controlled by language." What does this statement mean and do you think it is a fair representation between perception, emotion, reason and language?

1323 words - 5 pages be to communicate that feeling with others but on the other hand one can express emotions through art, music and poems as well. Meaning that during an interpretation (linguistic translation) your feelings (emotions) are "controlled" by trying to express that feeling to others. So any feeling you had initially gets lost or manipulated in the translation. Thus as far as you trying to express something through language, then language does "control

"Those who are inspired by an idealism rather than self interest make the biggest impact on History." To what extent does the study of Leon Trotsky support this view?

1184 words - 5 pages it was not without significance that 'irreconcilable' and 'relentless' were among his favourite words. He found Lenin's conduct unpardonable at times but later conceded that it was correct from the revolutionary point of view." This quote proves that although Trotsky at times found Lenin's strategies and conduct "unpardonable", it was needed at the time in order for the revolution to go ahead and to ultimately succeed. It shows that Trotsky is

What Moral and Ethical Obligations do Humans Have to Animals

1887 words - 8 pages special attributes such as conscience and reasoning awarded to humans only. Singer’s book ‘Animal Liberation’ has been one of the most preeminent works in the debate surrounding human and animal ethics. Singer attacks the Kantian ideologies by arguing what is referred to as the “The argument from marginal cases”. This argument claims that if animals are denied a direct moral status due to their lack of certain abilities that human beings possess

Does gender make a difference in education in America in the same way as in other countries?

1766 words - 7 pages show how we value diversity, how do these bleak stereotypes persist?”(Page 15), we have to wonder; if what we are doing to make headway for women are the kinds of things we ought to be doing. I mean are we making things better or worse? Elrich states in his same article, written about his middle grade classroom, that white people are the ones that really need to be the aggressor or leaders against racial discrimination in order to stop racial

What is Mandopop and How Does It Differ From Other Pop Music?

1780 words - 7 pages to increase these ideologies by allowing Mandopop artists from China, Taiwan and other countries’ Mandopop artist to perform together in a medley one after another (Baranovitch 2003:208-210). Similar to live performances, KTV has also been a major factor for the success and popularity of Mandopop as they are considered to be one of the major Chinese nightlife activities (Chew 2010:289). KTV is considered as a vital marketing strategy for the

What is Federalism and How Does It Relate to State Governments and Other Forms of Governance?

1006 words - 5 pages , & Schmidt, 2011). A chose system government gets its powers clearly from a made set out of fundamentals and hindrances, in the United States (US) it is the Constitution. In the US, the conflict for federalism was settled all around the approval of the Constitution, showed in the past portion. In present times federalism has gotten sponsorship as a model because this appearance of government puts a face to powers and brings government closer to the

To What Extent Does Modern Media Coverage and Censorship of Conflicts Affect How People Interpret Them?

2496 words - 10 pages ‘To what extent does modern media coverage and censorship of conflicts affect how people interpret them? Modern media coverage - the main means of mass communication - gives us news from around the globe, allowing us to develop an informed understanding of the world and its issues. Armed Conflict and tension between the world’s countries has only become more vehement, which has lead to an onslaught of media coverage, orchestrated by countries

Mini Essay: BUSINESS IN THE ECONOMY - What decisions does a business firm make in regard to what, how much and how to produce?

1070 words - 4 pages already existing business. Firms using least-cost production methods are very competitive. Least-cost production methods allow firms to grow, enabling the employment of more workers or they can at least maintain the sales levels where profits will ensure that production will continue.In an economy, all businesses must make crucial decisions which may alter the outcome of their business's performance for the better. In deciding on what, how and how

To what extent,how and why Plato's and Aristotle's democracy differ from the modern conception of the democracy

1703 words - 7 pages Reflection PaperManjieva EditaTo what extent, how and why, Plato and Aristotle's conception of democracy differ from the modern conception of democracy.Many of our ideas about democracy originated with the ancient Greeks. The Greeks roots of the world democracy are demos, meaning the "people" or, to put it in Aristotle's way, self-government by the many, as opposed to the few or the one. This is similar to Lincoln's definition: "government of

Psychotherapy How Does Psychotherapy Works And How Is It Different From All Other Therapy

595 words - 3 pages PsychotherapyPsychotherapy is an emotionally charged confiding interaction between a trained therapist and someone who suffers a psychological difficulty. Just like what the definition had said, psychotherapy aimed to help people with psychological sufferance. Psychoanalysis believed that most psychological problems were start by childhood repressed impulses and conflicts. By bringing these repressed feeling into conscious awareness, the

Similar Essays

How Does Mark Antony Use Language In 3.2 To Take Power Away From Brutus And The Other Conspirators?

1067 words - 4 pages How does Mark Antony use language in 3.2 to take power away from Brutus and the other conspirators?During Antony's speech he uses language as his main weapon to take power away from Brutus and the conspirators so he can avenge his dead friend Caesar, the leader of Rome; however I believe there may well be an underlying political motive for gaining power off the conspirators. He clearly uses great skill as at the start of the speech he has to

Language Is All That Seperates Animals From Humans

899 words - 4 pages Language is all that Seperates Animals from Humans For thousands of years humans have wrestled with the question of their "human" nature. Most often they have defined themselves in relation to the animal kingdom, yearning either to take on some of the superior attributes of other animals or to rise above their own animal nature by becoming angelic. And thus they define themselves as a special sort of unique creation. Our magnificent and

From 'the Outsider' By Albert Camus To What Extent Is Mersault An Existentialist? Does His Philosophy Make Him An Outsider To The Society In Which He Lives?

742 words - 3 pages To what extent is Mersault an existentialist? Does his philosophy make him an outsider to the society in which he lives?The author of the book 'The Outsider', Albert Camus was an existentialist. This philosophy formed the basis of his main character Mersault. As an existentialist this philosophy makes Mersault an outsider to the society in which he lives. He believes that life is an unrelenting effort with no reward at the end, believing the

“To What Extent Does Language Develop The Theme Of Gender Roles In Pat Barkers “Regeneration”?”

1308 words - 6 pages Pat Barker uses language effectively in the novel “Regeneration” to present gender roles and other themes within the novel. Her presentation of women, emasculation and men taking on more feminine roles are important for the theme of gender roles within the novel. She also uses language effectively to present themes of duty and father figures. There is a very small but important female presence in “Regeneration”. The first mention of women in