[LINGUISTICS] Psycholinguistics and Animal Language


There is a possibility that language may sometimes be considered as species-specific. Why do I say that? First, we must take a look at the basic notions of Communication, Language and Speech. Communication means the interaction of at least two individuals exchanging information, meanwhile Language has several characteristics such as; voluntary, symbolic, systematic and work in two different modalities (speech and writing), finally Speech is the activity that involves vocalization. These boundaries have yet give the possibly that animals’ communication is possible considered as a ‘communication’ (Field 2003:4-6).

Although there are some animals that have certain ways of communication resembles to language such as; parrots, dogs, vervet monkeys, birds, workers bees and dolphins. However, their communication work differently than humans. For example, the bees will do the ritual dance if there is food which I believe is not a form of a language. This movement in fact is just a gesture, a symbolization of an activity. I also believe that parrots cannot communicate because their spoken words are mostly mimicry based on what they hear. This, however, interest me, is it possible for Psycholinguistics to analyze animals? Because the process of let say the parrots mimicking the word they hear, or the infant bees studying the ritual dance or even the little dolphins who acquire their ultrasonic sound communication; are all of these also the process in their brain? Would it be possible to actually analyze them?

According to Field (2003) several species of primates can acquire human language if properly taught (p.94). By using certain lexical characteristic patterns in the form of universal grammar, these primates may be the evidence that animals (preferably mammals) is likely to acquire or learn human language in the perfect condition eventually.

Field, J. (2003). Psycholinguistics. Routledge, USA.

Alex Jhon