We Have Languages, So Do Other Animals Have Languages Too?

TED-Ed featured a short animated video lectured by Michele Bishop about ‘Do animals have language?’. Language is communication, media for creatures to exchange messages. While human beings have about 6,500 languages, other animals also have their unique ‘language’ for each species.

In the video, Bishop introduced four common characteristics a language has: discreteness, grammar, productivity and displacement. In other words, a language is different from another language but with shared characteristics; and grammar as the basic system of a language supports the productivity to convey a message. Animals have ways to communicate among each other but can these ways be considered as ‘languages’?

This short video answers this question well and explains the limitations of animals’ ‘languages’. The study of animals’ languages can actually be helpful to the study of development of human linguistics.


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