Scientists Translate Monkey Sounds To English



Monkeys not only have language, but distinct local dialects. Research into the variations could throw light on both our own linguistics and the way our fellow primates think.

Or so they think, presume, hope, guess, extrapolate and falsely claim as true.

Linguistics and Philosophy is a peer reviewed journal addressing “structure and meaning in natural language”. The editors-in-chief are Thomas Ede Zimmermann (Goethe University Frankfurt- it has been founded and financed by the wealthy and active liberal citizenry of Germany) and Graeme Forbes (University of Colorado at Boulder- not exactly a hot bed of conservative thinking).

“Recordings in the Tai Forest of the Ivory Coast show that the monkeys there use a sound we might write as krak to warn of the presence of a leopard, while hok referred to an eagle. They also use the suffix oo to indicate a more minor threat, so krak-oo mean something to keep an eye on below, while hok-oo warns of minor danger above, such as falling branches.”

“However, when the monkeys of Tiwai Island, Sierra Leone, were studied it was found that the same sounds had different meanings. “On the island, in an eagle situation, you did find a lot of hok but you also found a lot of krak,” Phillipe Schlenker of the French National Center for Scientific Research told Scientific American. “That was surprising because krak is supposed to be a leopard alarm call.” The clue to this difference is that Tiwai has no leopards.”

Kind of makes sense, until you examine some of the details. The sounds have not been translated into English- they have been translated into a phonetic resemblance of the sound made. And then you get this final paragraph:

“To ensure they knew what threat the monkeys were referring to, primatologists collaborating with Schlenker placed realistic models of leopards where the monkeys would see them, and played eagle calls before recording the monkeys’ responses. “If you yourself are the trigger,” Schlenker says, “You have much better control over what causes each calling sequence in the first place.””

They introduced into the natural environment an artificial stimulant, to get the results that they wanted in the first place.

They also stated: “It shouldn’t surprise us that monkeys use calls differently depending on geography. Britain and America are “two countries separated by a common language.” Even in one country the same word can have localized meanings.”

So in England “bumbershoot” means in USA “umbrella.” In England “loo” means in USA “toilet” which is where this study should be flushed down.


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