Language evolution: Semantic combinations in primate calls

@article{Arnold2006LanguageES,
  title={Language evolution: Semantic combinations in primate calls},
  author={Kate Arnold and Klaus Zuberb{\"u}hler},
  journal={Nature},
  year={2006},
  volume={441},
  pages={303-303}
}
Syntax sets human language apart from other natural communication systems, although its evolutionary origins are obscure. Here we show that free-ranging putty-nosed monkeys combine two vocalizations into different call sequences that are linked to specific external events, such as the presence of a predator and the imminent movement of the group. Our findings indicate that non-human primates can combine calls into higher-order sequences that have a particular meaning. 

Call combinations in monkeys: Compositional or idiomatic expressions?

Language evolution: syntax before phonology?

A linguistically informed review of animal call sequences demonstrates that phonology in animal vocal systems is rare, whereas syntax is more widespread, and hypothesize that syntax, present in all languages, evolved before phonology.

Linguistic capacity of non-human animals.

  • K. Zuberbühler
  • Psychology, Biology
    Wiley interdisciplinary reviews. Cognitive science
  • 2015
There is evidence for both continuity and discontinuity when comparing modern primate and human communication, suggesting that the origin of language is the result of multiple gradual transitions from earlier forms of primate-like communication and social cognition, rather than a sudden and fundamental redesign in ancestral human communication and cognition.

Campbell's Monkeys Use Affixation to Alter Call Meaning

It is concluded that, when referring to specific external events, non-human primates can generate meaningful acoustic variation during call production that is functionally equivalent to suffixation in human language.

Primate Communication: Meaning from Strings of Calls

A survey of the recent primate literature for evidence of vocal control finds evidence for both acoustic variants of basic call types and call sequences, suggesting a direct transition from primate vocal behaviour to human speech.

The Emergence of Hierarchical Structure in Human Language

It is shown that human language syntax is composed of two layers that parallel these two independently evolved systems: an “E” layer resembling the Type E system of birdsong and an ‘L’ layer providing words, yielding the unbounded, non-finite state, hierarchical structure that serves as the hallmark of full-fledged human language morphology.

Primate social knowledge and the origins of language

Primate vocal communication is very different from human language. Differences are most pronounced in call production. Differences in production have been overemphasized, however, and distracted

Evolutionary roads to syntax

Combinatorial capacities in primates

Experimental evidence for compositional syntax in bird calls

The first experimental evidence for compositional syntax in a wild animal species, the Japanese great tit (Parus minor), is reported, revealing that receivers extract different meanings from ‘ABC' and ‘D' notes and a compound meaning from ’ABC–D' combinations.
...

References

SHOWING 1-8 OF 8 REFERENCES

A syntactic rule in forest monkey communication

It is indicated that wild Diana monkeys, Cercopithecus diana, may comprehend the semantic changes caused by a combinatory rule present in the natural communication of another primate, the Campbell's monkey, C. campbelli.

The faculty of language: what is it, who has it, and how did it evolve?

We argue that an understanding of the faculty of language requires substantial interdisciplinary cooperation. We suggest how current developments in linguistics can be profitably wedded to work in

Syntactic Structures in the Vocalizations of Wedge-Capped Capuchin Monkeys, Cebus Olivaceus

Call classification involved first defining a very large number of possible call types on the basis of these characteristics, and then using a discriminant analysis to identify which types should be lumped together, which presumably indicates an intermediate internal state.

Nonverbal Vocal Communication: Comparative and Developmental Approaches

Part I. Systems of Communication: Introduction and Review U. Jurgens 1. Evolution of Vocal Communication D. Ploog 2. On the Neurobiology of Vocal Communication U. Jurgens 3. Vocal Affect Expression

Cooperation and competition in two forest monkeys

A 24-month field study in the tropical rainforest of Tai National Park, Ivory Coast found that putty-nosed monkeys require an ecological niche almost identical to that of the Diana monkeys, Cercopithecus diana diana, and hypothesized that Diana monkeys tolerated immigratingPutty-Nosed monkeys and formed mixed-species groups with them, despite high levels of competition, because of their merit in predation defense.

The Complex Vocal Repertoire of the Adult Cotton‐top Tamarin (Saguinus oedipus oedipus)1)

Abstract The cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus oedipus) has an extensive vocal repertoire which is derived from the variation of two basic elements and the sequential combination of those

A Phonological Analysis of Male Gibbon Singing Behavior

Acoustic analyses and experimental field playbacks were conducted to investigate the nature and communicative significance of the phonological structure and organization of male gibbon (Hylobates