Boom! Hok! A Monkey Language Is Deciphered

CampbellMonkeyThis is awesome. Beware monkeys, we humans are now onto your secret code. You won’t be able to take over the planet that easily after we damn it all to hell.

NICHOLAS WADE writes NY Times:

Boom boom! (I’m here, come to me!)

Krak krak! (Watch out, a leopard!)

Hok hok hok! (Hey, crowned eagle!)

Very good — you have already mastered half the basic vocabulary of the Campbell’s monkey, a fellow primate that lives in the forests of the Tai National Park in Ivory Coast. The adult males have six types of call, each with a specific meaning, but they can string two or more calls together into a message with a different meaning.

Having spent months recording the monkeys’ calls in response to both natural and artificial stimuli, a group led by Klaus Zuberbühler of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland argues that the Campbell’s monkeys have a primitive form of syntax.

This is likely to be a controversial claim because despite extensive efforts to teach chimpanzees language, the subjects showed little or no ability to combine the sounds they learned into a sentence with a larger meaning. Syntax, basic to the structure of language, seemed be a uniquely human faculty.

Read More: NY Times

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