Which Animals Can Differentiate Between Languages?

Written by on July 17, 2014 in Sci-Tech, Science with 0 Comments

Esther Inglis-Arkell| io9

monkeyTalking to animals, including baby human animals, is a waste of time. They don’t know what you’re saying. But there has been an experiment that proves certain animals they do know what language you’re saying it in.

Scientists at the University of Barcelona have figured out that animals can distinguish between different human languages. How did they do this? They started slow, with cotton-top tamarin monkeys and human infants (unfortunately not in the same room at the same time). The procedure of the experiment was simple: the monkey or infant (oh, how I wish it had been both) sat in a room with a speaker. The speaker played either Japanese or Dutch sentences while a team of scientists gauged subject’s level of interest in the sound. Apparently when infants are interested in something, they ramp up the intensity with which they suck on their pacifier. Monkeys, who have better neck control than human infants and are rarely provided with pacifiers, just turn towards the speaker. After a few minutes, the sounds no longer held either subject’s interest, and they showed signs of boredom. When the language on the speaker changed, from Japanese to Dutch or Dutch to Japanese, round went the head again. Both human babies and monkeys knew the difference in the melody of speech.

The scientists took it one step further when they decided to train rats.

[read full post here]

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