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Yale Linguistic Professor Pays Academic Visit to UESTC

published: 2011-10-29 11:37:08       hits: 


On October 21, the internationally renowned linguist Prof. Stephen R. Anderson from Yale University paid an academic visit to UESTC, and gave a lecture in the Academic Lecture Hall at School of Foreign Languages, revealing secrets to animal communication and huaman language.


Prof. Anderson explained the differences and connections between animal communication in a broad sense and huamn language, analyzing from the visual, auditory and olfactory perspectives communication modes in different animals, especially in birds. He differentiated birds' calls and songs, pointing out that birds acquire their songs through repeated perception and production. Systematic analysis had revealed patterns of birds' calls, which to some extent were equivalent to the syntax of human laguage. One flock of birds tend to share similar communication patterns which may change as the environment around them also changes.

The information conveyed in communication of animals (not including humans) is quite limited in permutation and combination, as Prof. Anderson pointed out. There also seems to be a crucial point in the acquisition of animal communicative patterns as in human language acquisition. Human language possesses unique features such as hierarchy, recursiveness and duality, which boundlessly enrich, diversify and derivatize human language. So far, no evidence has proved that any animals apart from humans can use such a system of symbols for communication. In conclusion, both animals and humans enjoy unique and different communicative patterns, and all these patterns can help achieve the purpose of communication.