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madmonk

is rural life getting to me?

Just sitting thinking that chances are that if you are born in France you would grow up speaking French, ok same goes for Germany etc., so how does a cuckoo know how to cuckoo?
Blue Sky

Re: is rural life getting to me?

madmonk wrote:
is rural life getting to me?


Errrm? Probably.
Samantha

I have been know to think I'm so glad I wasn't born in Germany.......................because I can't speak the language.
Cathryn

Birds do apparently have regional accents so - no it isn't!

Samantha Laughing
pricey

Mate I will be coming to see you in a couple of months, Hang on in there till I get there, Dont go Mad yet Laughing
Blue Sky

Too late me thinks Wink
Gervase

Nurse!!!
wellington womble

Ah, great unanswered questions! Write to the New Scientist - I've always wanted to know, if pitch is so important to meaning in Mandarin, how do you sing in China?
sean

King James 1 believed that if you brought up a child any verbal input it would speak Hebrew.
Green Man

Some noises are just instinct. I heard my three year old taunting another with the " Na na nanan nan aaa" noise that he most certainly did not learn from us. Shocked
Went

ruby wrote:
Birds do apparently have regional accents so - no it isn't!

Samantha Laughing


Spanish Blackbirds definitely have a 'spanish' song compared with those we remember from the UK..... Laughing
Tay

It depends upon whether or not you are speaking about French cuckoos or 'foreign' cuckoos...

French cuckoos (like all other creatures, including humans here) are given a 24 volume set of files on 'how to be a good xxxx' (please insert applicable animal name) when they are born. Volume 5 teaches 'how to communicate'. There is no natural instinct, just bureaucracy. Rolling Eyes

With reference to the importance of pitch in China, and how do people sing, the answer is clear. They can't sing. What is the population of China? And how many famous Chinese singers are there? None that I know of. When at uni, I had the misfortune to have a room adjacent to a Chinese bloke who adored Celine Dion's voice. Not only did I have to listen to 'my heart will go on' each morning at 7.30, he would also attempt to sing along to the song. He sounded like a hyena which was being disembowelled. Surprised He happened to agree that there aren't any well-known Chinese singers, and strangely enough, he couldn't explain why... Laughing
madmonk

Oh bloody hell and there I am thinking that the daddy cuckoo used to sneak back and say " alright son after me" cuckoo cuckoo, well there you go you learn something everyday. Laughing Laughing Laughing
NannyP

Tay wrote:
When at uni, I had the misfortune to have a room adjacent to a Chinese bloke who adored Celine Dion's voice. Not only did I have to listen to 'my heart will go on' each morning at 7.30, he would also attempt to sing along to the song. He sounded like a hyena which was being disembowelled.


Oh, I have to listen to Hyena's disemboweling all day long Shocked Rolling Eyes I just thought, c'et normal Wink
Tay

Shocked Are your neighbours howling, or is it Mark? Laughing
hamster

Re: is rural life getting to me?

madmonk wrote:
Just sitting thinking that chances are that if you are born in France you would grow up speaking French, ok same goes for Germany etc., so how does a cuckoo know how to cuckoo?


They just do!!

In some ways it's the same with animals and humans - French children hear their parents speaking French, so they learn French, just as cuckoos hear adult cuckoos making cuckoo-noises and pick those up too.

Basically, a lot of animals use sound to communicate a need, but most animal communication is restricted to a few basic functions, e.g. signalling danger, attracting a mate, showing aggression etc etc. Babies cry when they're hungry, wet, need comfort etc, and what happens when humans learn to speak is different from animals learning to communicate.

Human language is fundamentally different from animal communication in that it is arbitrary and words only have a meaning because we ascribe a meaning to them (i.e. a table is only a table because we all agree it's a table, not because there's any intrinsic reason why that particular combination of sounds should denote that particular object). So, learning to speak is about learning the system of words and sounds of your particular language, even though we all have the same linguistic tools in our brains. (It's similar to birds or cows having 'accents' but more drastically different.)

Because animal communication is significantly less complex than human language, then it's much closer to the kind of instinctive sounds animals make anyway. There is evidence that in birdsong, some notes may mean certain things, but it's still more basic than human language. There was an experiment when a bird was isolated from other birds, and it still learnt to sing, but the structure of its song was different from other birds of the same species. However, when they re-introduced it to other birds who had grown up normally, it quickly adjusted its singing to fit in with the others.

This wouldn't happen with human children. If children aren't exposed to language before the age of about 7, they won't pick it up, but they would still make noises to communicate certain basic needs. When we're born, we have the capacity to learn any language, but we learn the one we hear other people speaking around us. Children learn which sounds their language uses, and grammatical things like how the tenses work, as well as what words mean i.e. they learn how to use language, which is essentially an arbitrary and culturally-specific system, unlike animal communication which is more basic and less specific.

I'm such a geek. Very Happy

*takes linguistics student hat off*
mochyn

Re: is rural life getting to me?

hamster wrote:
madmonk wrote:
how does a cuckoo know how to cuckoo?


They just do!!

In some ways it's the same with animals and humans - French children hear their parents speaking French, so they learn French, just as cuckoos hear adult cuckoos making cuckoo-noises and pick those up too.


But, surely, cuckoos aren't brought up by other cuckoos, are they? So why don't they speak chaffinch?
hamster

Re: is rural life getting to me?

mochyn wrote:
hamster wrote:
madmonk wrote:
how does a cuckoo know how to cuckoo?


They just do!!

In some ways it's the same with animals and humans - French children hear their parents speaking French, so they learn French, just as cuckoos hear adult cuckoos making cuckoo-noises and pick those up too.


But, surely, cuckoos aren't brought up by other cuckoos, are they? So why don't they speak chaffinch?


Ooh, that's a very good point. I didn't think of that. I've now spent all afternoon googling to see if cuckoos communicate differently from other birds and haven't applied for any jobs at all! *sigh* Haven't found anything out either...


Edited to add: This website says that cuckoos learn a full song even if they haven't been exposed to it, whereas the bullfinch learns any song it's exposed to. I guess, then, that the cuckoo maybe knows it instinctively, to compensate for being brought up by other birds, while other kinds of bird don't.
http://www.ling.udel.edu/colin/courses/ling101/idsardi_notes/acquisition.html
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