Re: Nonhuman Animal Languages

From: S.Harnad (
Date: Mon Dec 08 1997 - 19:54:43 GMT

> From: tim <>
> Date: Mon, 8 Dec 1997 18:48:19 +0000 (GMT)
> nic wrote:
> >if Dolphins do have language ability, that only makes two
> >species on this planet
> however i saw a tv program on crocodiles (or was it
> alligators) last week which said that they have a language of
> 12 sounds, which is the most complex of the reptile
> languages, which was one of a number of factors which made it
> the most mammal-like example of a reptile.
> just thought id mention it

Can there be a language with only 12 sounds? What is a language?

(And where did you see that quote from Nik? It didn't appear in my email.)

One of the unique features of language (human, natural language) is that
anything that can be said in one language can be said in any other
language. How would that work if there were only 12 sounds?

So maybe there are recombinations of those 12 sounds; but there
would have to be an awful lot of them; a limitless number, in fact.

So the real question is: Why don't animal communication systems go on to
the full power of language?

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Tue Feb 13 2001 - 16:23:09 GMT