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Animal linguistics: a primer


Berthet, Mélissa; Coye, Camille; Dezecache, Guillaume; Kuhn, Jeremy (2023). Animal linguistics: a primer. Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, 98(1):81-98.

Abstract

The evolution of language has been investigated by several research communities, including biologists and linguists, striving to highlight similar linguistic capacities across species. To date, however, no consensus exists on the linguistic capacities of non-human species. Major controversies remain on the use of linguistic terminology, analysis methods and behavioural data collection. The field of ‘animal linguistics’ has emerged to overcome these difficulties and attempt to reach uniform methods and terminology. This primer is a tutorial review of ‘animal linguistics’. It describes the linguistic concepts of semantics, pragmatics and syntax, and proposes minimal criteria to be fulfilled to claim that a given species displays a particular linguistic capacity. Second, it reviews relevant methods successfully applied to the study of communication in animals and proposes a list of useful references to detect and overcome major pitfalls commonly observed in the collection of animal behaviour data. This primer represents a step towards mutual understanding and fruitful collaborations between linguists and biologists.

Abstract

The evolution of language has been investigated by several research communities, including biologists and linguists, striving to highlight similar linguistic capacities across species. To date, however, no consensus exists on the linguistic capacities of non-human species. Major controversies remain on the use of linguistic terminology, analysis methods and behavioural data collection. The field of ‘animal linguistics’ has emerged to overcome these difficulties and attempt to reach uniform methods and terminology. This primer is a tutorial review of ‘animal linguistics’. It describes the linguistic concepts of semantics, pragmatics and syntax, and proposes minimal criteria to be fulfilled to claim that a given species displays a particular linguistic capacity. Second, it reviews relevant methods successfully applied to the study of communication in animals and proposes a list of useful references to detect and overcome major pitfalls commonly observed in the collection of animal behaviour data. This primer represents a step towards mutual understanding and fruitful collaborations between linguists and biologists.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Comparative Language Science
Special Collections > Centers of Competence > Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Language Evolution
Dewey Decimal Classification:490 Other languages
890 Other literatures
410 Linguistics
Language:English
Date:1 February 2023
Deposited On:04 Oct 2022 06:03
Last Modified:27 Jun 2024 01:39
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0006-3231
OA Status:Green
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/brv.12897
PubMed ID:36189714
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)