Custom «Animal and Human Languages » Essay Paper Sample

Animal and Human Languages


The essay is an in-depth examination of the significant differences in animal language and human language.  There are varying views on this issues as some hold the opinion that the two have similar communication language while on the other side of the coin, linguists claim that animal languages are fundamentally different from human language. Language has been though of as the "human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication" (Yule, 1996).

To accomplish the requirements of the assignment, the properties of human language, animal language, similarities and differences between language in animals and human will be adequately tackled. Animal language refers to non-human systems of communication since the interaction between animals is different based on the principles being different from those of human beings. It has agreed all scholars that animals too communicate but the degree of comparing their language to those of human greatly vary. Communication refers to conveying of information from a sender to the recipient and back to the sender (Chomsky, 1965). It is worth noting that communication is not unique to human only. Communication engrosses "cause, intention, attention, effect, and duplication with understanding" (Chomsky, 1965). A variety of animal species communicates through a variety of ways such as odor, sound and body movement almost just like in human beings. Nonetheless, scholars are of the view that animal languages are not as multifaceted or animated as human language.

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Properties of human language

According to Yule, 1996 in his book 'The study of language' there are eight properties of human language. These include; displacement in which case human have the ability to incorporate in their language words that can refers to the past as well as future time and to a different location. Arbitrariness a situation where there is no natural link between the form of language and the meaning. Additionally, animals show arbitrary link between linguistic signs and objects in nature. On the same note, human language has the property of creativity. For human to express their thoughts they are join between 20,000 and 200,000 words in making reasonable sentences, this is nothing but creativity. Similarly, human language possesses cultural transmission in which human acquire language with other speakers and not hereditary. Discreteness where sounds used in language are meaningfully distinct (Chomsky, 1965).

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Additionally, duality is another property of human language. This means that language is structured in two levels; physical level where individuals' sounds are produced and finally the meaning level where combined sounds are produced. More importantly, human languages do carry meaning. This is the case with 'animal language'. Lastly and more importantly, human language is heavily dependent on syntax or structure in order to bring coherence.

Properties of animal 'language'

Despite the fact that there are some attributes of language and communica5tion between human and animal, some distinctive characteristics separate the two. For instance, animals are stimulus dependent. This implies that what they communicate to members of the same species or others is closely associated with to what is really happening to the sender of the message. Animals' communication is fully linked to a stimulus such as feelings of pain, sighting predators, the quest to mate among others (Ladygina-Kohts & de-Waal, 2002). On the same note, animal language is not based syntax. Animals also lack the properties of duality and displacement. Their communication is purely based on things that are happening; they cannot base their communication in past or future events. This is attributed to their lack of big thinking capacity. It is worth noting that in terms of 'speaking' animals are unable to speak. It is also worth mentioning that animal communication or language largely depend on signal. Lastly and more importantly, the ability of animals to learn how to communicate is genetically acquired unlike in human beings where it is culturally transmitted. 

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Similarities and differences

These include traditional transmission in which communication system is learnt, complete or total feedback, vocal-auditory channel, rapid fading which means transistorizes, interchangeability where individuals can be both senders and receivers of information, semanticity and specialization.

According to Fromkin et al., 2009 vocal-auditory channel use, a situation where sounds are produced by the vocal chords and received aurally, there is clear distinction between animal and human communication. However, there are some similarities for example if one shout to a friend he will hear it, similarly, if a chimpanzee produces a danger sound others will hear and respond accordingly. However, animals have very limited use of signs as compared to human. This is depicted by their close vocal system, which limits them in making different calls, which are meaningful.

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Similarly, in human language, it is important to note that once individuals learn the language of communication, he/she can apply it anywhere and to refer to things not yet seen. On the other hand, animals lack this ability. For instance, birds and apes only produce sound or vocals that are either genetically programmed or they have heard being produced by members of the same species (Aitchison, 2007). A musician composing a new song in a live concert and a disc jokey playing what is already loaded in the jukebox can exemplify the whole scenario.

 Another difference in human and animal language rests on infinity capacity. It is well known that human beings have the potential forming short as well as long and complex sentences.

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Interestingly, human language can be used to prevaricate. This means that speakers either can intentionally or unintentionally make utterances that are not meaningful or not true (Coleman, 2005). On the other hand, animals do not have is the capability and they only communicate certain information when necessary for instance alerting other animals about presence of a predator.


From the review of language in both animals and human being, it is evident that the two require it for communication purposes which is vital for their survival. Researchers have established that although there are some similarly on animal and human language, there are indeed distinct differences. For instance the ability to construct short, simple long and complex sentences, use of syntax, ability to use signs and symbols more than animals among others. However, there is a contention that all these differences are just sophistication of human attribute from what animal portray.

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