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Flashcards in Communication in Other Species Deck (25)
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The development of an individual member of a species over their lifetime



The development of a species over evolutionary time scales


Ant Communication

Chemical trails, signal alarms, signal caste system, produce death chemical


Similar to human communication:

Symbolic communication – one signal means one thing

Communicates information to the group


Different from human communication:

Not expandable

Lack of contextual variability (reacts to acid on live ant as though it’s dead)


Bee Communication

Dance describing location of food source – butt waggle


Similar to human communication:

Flexible: variable direction/spatial relationship depending on the relative location of the hive the bee is in

Communicating about the past/absent things (in space and time)


Different from human communication:

No vocabulary (lack of mapping between signal and object)


Vervet Monkey Communication

Alarm calls (changes depending on which animal is present)


Similar to human communication:

Symbolic communication


Different from human communication:

Innate, rather than learned

Not expandable - No way to improvise new sounds for new predators

No context – will produce the sounds in isolation


Bird Communication



Similar to human communication:

Learned/culturally transmitted

Diversity – within a chain of passed songs, songs that started out similar become different over time

Symbolic – complex structure, but single message


Chimpanzee Communication

Vocal and gestural (tactile and visual)


Similar to human communication:

Contextual – vocalize differently in different situations

Some vocal audience design – may hoot more when alliance partners are nearby

More likely to use visual gestures than tactile when the other ape is looking

Variation between groups


Different from human communication:

No referential use of sound or gestures

No productivity in combining gestures


The Ritualization Process

Signals arise when non-signal behaviors come to take on a communicative function

1. Individual A performs action X

2. Individual B consistently reacts by doing Y

3. B anticipates A’s performance of X, on the basis of its initial step, by performing Y

4. A anticipates B’s anticipation and produces the action X in a ritualized form in order to elicit Y


A Human Example of Ritualization

1. Kids reach for parent

2. Parent picks them up

3. Kid realizes that every time they lift their arms, they get picked up

4. Parent says "want up?" and waits for kid to reach for them


Hockett's Design Features

Other species have communication systems that display some of these properties but no species have one that displays all of them.


Vocal-Auditory Channel

One of Hockett's design features



One of Hockett's design features

Communicating about something in a different place or time



One of Hockett's design features

Can create new utterances consistent with the grammar of the language, which have never been heard before, and have them be understood


Duality of Patterning

One of Hockett's design features

Speech is made up of a relatively small number of meaningless sounds that can be combined to form a vast number of meaningful words

Allows human speech to be infinitely productive

Sounds are distinct/easy to understand



One of Hockett's design features

There is no relationship between the sound and the form it refers to



One of Hockett's design features

Meaningfulness – has intentional content

The tie between meaningful elements and their meaning is arbitrary (vs. bee dance – speed indicates distance)



One of Hockett's design features

Anything that has been received can also be produced


Traditional Transmission

One of Hockett's design features

Learned, passed down by cultural transmission


Rapid Fading

One of Hockett's design features

Once a message is produced, it is only briefly there

Can control who receives a message, and also facilitates lying


Total Feedback

One of Hockett's design features



One of Hockett's design features

The physical process of communication and the sound waves serve no function except as communication signals



One of Hockett's design features

The basic units of speech (such as sounds) can be categorized as belonging to distinct categories

There is no gradual, continuous shading from one sound to another in the linguistics system, although there may be a continuum in the real physical world.


Broadcast Transmission and Directional Reception

One of Hockett's design features

Can be heard by anyone within hearing range

Can figure out where the sound is coming from


Audience Design

The ability to adapt the signal to the needs or a particular addressee or group of addressees


Cultural vs. biological transmission of communication systems

The Imitation Video (Kids & Chimps) and how it relates to language development

The kids continue to follow all of the steps even when it’s clear that they are not doing anything

The chimps only do the steps that actually get the treats

This overimitation relates to language development

Learning requires copying, often prior to full understanding

Child doesn’t always know why the phrase produces the certain response, but knows they want that result

same action = same goal achieved