Human and Animal Communication

Most animals have inter and intra-species communicating systems to communicate with one other. They cry, hoot, beat, dance and coo, and to some degree these noises and acts accomplish the same purposes as human language. They make instructive noise. Animals as some scholars believe, have both the discrete and non-discrete system of communication (e.g.  non-discrete in the case of the bees who communicate among themselves though a dance, and discrete in the case of vocal monkeys who communicate though a bark, lip-smacking, “aarr” sounds, etc) but their message as well as symbols are limited in quality and dimension. Human languages, on the other hand are much more interestingly unlimited.

Animal communication, thus, is devoid of the ‘complexity’, ‘novelty’, multiplicity, and ‘creativity’, of human language. Animal com-medication is a closed system; it is unextendable and unmodifiable. The bees and the monkeys use even now -a- days the same communication system which they used, say, five thousand years ago. Hence animal communication lacks the variety found in the system of human communication. The number of sentences in any natural language is inexhaustible. There is no limit to the number of conceptual units in the human language, nor to the number of possible symbols, Human language is extendable and modifiable.

Human communication is structurally complex while the animal communication is not. The former is conditioned by time and geography, the latter is not. For example, the dogs of all the countries have the same system of message and symbols human beings, on the other hand, use a variety of symbols which differ from one nation or geographical region to another. Human language is much more acquired by effort and is the result of social interaction. Animal communication differs in this respect to. If a human child is kept away from human society for a long time, and is conditioned to live in the community, say of wolves, in all probability, he will not be able to acquire human language. In other words, animal system of communication is instinctive and inherited; human language is not such. Human language has a much wider range of flexibility, modification change, variety, creativity, etc. Than animal communication. In human language, the element of the mimicry is more than it is in the animal communication.

The organs of speech by which humans produce sounds, form a rare gift of Nature to man. No other species except apes and monkeys has been endowed with this gift.

We can summarize the difference between human language and animal language system of communication in the following manner:

Human Language  Animal Communication System
1. Unlimited and infinite Limited and finite
2. Open system Closed system
3. Extendable, modifiable unextendable, unimaginable
4. Flexible and full of variety inflexible and without variety
5. Non-instinctive instinctive
6. Acquired inherited
7. Conditioned by geography not conditioned by  geography
8. Full of novelty & creativity bereft of novelty and creativity
9. Recurrent repetitive
10. Has grammaticality has no grammaticality
11. Cognitive as well as behavioural only behavioral
12. Descriptive and narrative non-descriptive and non-narrative

Thus on the basis of its chief characteristics, language may be defined as’ a patterned system of arbitrary sound symbols, whose characteristic features of displacement, cultural transmission, productivity and quality are rare or absent in animal communication.

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3 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Jameel Jabari June 15, 2013 at 10:02 pm - Reply

    “great post”
    Love it :)

  2. Resham Bahadur Thapa June 18, 2013 at 6:33 am - Reply

    It’s true that human and wild communications is so necessary.

  3. Nahid June 18, 2013 at 9:26 am - Reply

    awesome

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