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A language is a meticulous kind of structure for presenting, conveying, and understanding information. There are fundamentally two types of languages which are; the natural languages and artificial languages.
A Natural language also known as an ordinary language is any language which is formed in an inadvertent manner due to the human intellect’s ability to grasp the intrinsic capacity for language. Normally natural language is used as a basic form of communication hence the language could include spoken words, written or signs and gestures.
An artificial language also referred to as a planned or constructed language is any language that has not developed evolutionarily rather has been deliberately formulated by an individual or group by creating new pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary.
International auxiliary language or formal languages such as computer-programming languages, formal logic analysis languages, and code languages such as Morse code are examples of artificial language which are devised to simplify human’s communication for computer interpretation or to exercise discretion. To know a language in general is to be able to understand the language but a more technical approach would be to be able to transmit, receive, and understand information communicated in a given language.
Comparison between language and communication in animals
Language is a basically a structure of sound symbols used to convey information while communication is the comprehension and deduction of language (Duranti 46). Therefore, language is a complex and intricate set of ciphers which need a common platform that is created through communication in order to be understood (Duranti 48).
Communication can thus be better understood as a median that bridges the gap between two language terminals which could either be similar or different. It is not uncommon to find two individuals who speak different languages being able to communicate and as a consequence being able to understand each other (Ammaria 5).
It is through the above statements that I draw the hypothesis that animals have and do use language. Animals have shown all basic necessities of a language that is symbols either oral or physical as well as an almost equal reaction to a particular sound or physical movement(Deacon 10).
A good example is of the meerkats which are social carnivores similar to mongooses that live in arid and semi arid areas in Africa and Australia (Serjeantson 11). Meerkats constantly communicate with one through over 20 different sounds each of which has a different meaning.
The sounds include lost sounds, alarm sounds, leading the group sounds, pup feeding sounds, guarding sounds, and foraging sounds. Since meerkats spend most of the day foraging, at least one is left to stand guard and watch out for predators (Thornton & McAuliffe 6). When there is a clear field in sight, the guard emits mellow tones.
As soon as a predator is identified at a distance, the guard gives a beeping sound and all the animals become alert. When the predator gets closer, the guard emits another sound depending on the type of predator. Birds of prey usually elicit a high pitch sound which is a warning not only to stay alert but also to hide since birds like the martial eagle are fast and hence calls for retreat are emitted earlier than ground predators like snakes, jackals or crocodiles(Thornton & McAuliffe 7).
Domestic animals such as the cow also have language. The reason for this is because a cow separated from the rest of the heard will constantly moo until it is reunited with the herd. In addition, the cows in the heard usually moo after the lost cow moos as a sign of reassurance and also an indicator of their direction (Thornton & McAuliffe 9).
Birds have also been identified to have their own language since different species of birds emit different sounds. Crows have been shown to caw after spotting food in order to summon other crows. Birds such as the ostrich dance in order to attract mates while others such as the peacock display their feathers (Serjeantson 12).
Comparison between animal and human language/communication
According to (Paolillo 12), human language is mainly applied for the illustration of thought, for creating social interactions, for communication of information and for expounding thoughts. Speech has been universally acknowledged as the dividing factor between humans and animals as far as language is concerned.
However, various studies have shown that some of the primates moderately possess the aptitude for speech. A study carried out on chimpanzees showed that certain primates have the ability to communicate with others with intent to get certain information across (Raffaele 4).
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Observed in their natural habitat, chimpanzees were shown to observe social order and basically give out and carry out commands depending on the social status (Ladygina-Kohts & de Waal 68). For instance, as social creatures chimpanzees were shown to hunt together and specific sounds from the group leaders saw members of the hunting group take up certain positions. The understanding of the language and the underlying messages following the exchanges showed a level of comprehension unique only to primates.
As indicated by (Ladygina-Kohts & de Waal 61), the learning aptitude of the chimpanzees is so high in the animal kingdom that a group of experimental chimpanzees were taught a vocabulary of 200 words using American Sign Language (ASL) and they were able to communicate with each other using the ASL with the chimpanzees having acted in response as required to approximately 70% of what was being communicated (Duranti 48).
Human language is therefore different from that of animals because even those animals highly likely to adapt to human intelligence cannot effectively express themselves through speech as humans can (Ammaria 7). Human communication on the other hand is almost as similar as to that of animals. This is because the application of language will usually reflect a common form of understanding in both humans and animals and hence the similar reactions following a stop sign on the road or a meerkat danger call (Raffaele 5).
Critical components needed for language development in infants
According to (Kail 39), phonology is one of the most important components a human infant must figure out in order to use language. Basically phonology is the meticulous use of sound to predetermine the connotation of speech in any human language thus it acts as a subfield in linguistics that is associated with the sound coordination of languages.
Phonology depicts how different sounds work in a given language or in different languages to code meaning into spoken words (Deacon 11). A human infant also needs syntax which is the principles and rules that govern the sentence structure of any natural language which will help them construct coherent sentences (Ladygina-Kohts & de Waal 65).
In addition, Pragmatics is another critical component since it analyses the variations through which context contributes to meaning (Kail 40). Pragmatics helps human beings with the understanding and transmission of meaning through the context of the utterance, status of the speaker and listener, the inferred intent of the speaker as well as the linguistic knowledge of the speaker and listener (Kail 42).
Humans also need semantics which is the understanding of sounds, facial expressions and body language (Flynn 71). Above all, the human infant must figure out vocabulary in order to use language (Paolillo 14).
Vocabulary is the set of words which are common in a particular language (Kail 42). A person’s vocabulary generally matures and progresses with time hence it acts as a valuable and elementary implement for communication and attaining knowledge (Flynn 71).
Some animals such as the African Grey Parrots have the ability to mimic human language and some show simple forms of intelligence like differentiating colors through speech (Kail 44). Animals also show syntax application since animals of the same species are able to communicate effectively though they lack the other components needed for language development.
Through careful examination of the information available, it has been established that primarily, language is different from communication. While language is used by both animals and humans, communication leads to the understanding of the language.
Therefore, a human being can communicate to an animal by rewarding or whipping it depending on the animal’s actions and the animal gradually understands what to do and what to avoid. On the other hand, a human cannot use the same language as that of the animal yet they are able to communicate. Animals do have language which enables them to communicate effectively in their natural habitat.
This is especially true with social animals such as chimpanzees, whales, birds, elephants and meerkats among others which use language to coordinate their activities in the wild as well as keep close watch on each other. Human infants must figure out five critical components in order to use language, the main component being vocabulary since it determines the content of the language.