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Study: Orangutan squeaks show language evolution

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From Victoria Gill at BBC:

With thousands of hours of listening as the apes communicated, the researchers found that the animals embedded several different bits of information in their squeaks.

The team compared this to how we might use more than one word to convey the same meaning – saying “car” but also “automobile” and “vehicle”

“They seemed to make doubly sure that the message was received, so they would send the same message with different [kiss squeak combination] signals,”

The scientists say their study suggests that, rather than a concerted effort to form complex words, it might have been this “redundancy” – forming different sounds that had the same meaning, in order to reinforce a message – that drove early language evolution. More.

Nope. The squeaks didn’t drive early language evolution. All such claims should be treated as items to be crossed off the list of what did drive it, given that baboons are not speaking with us today.

But the significant question for the future of science is, why is the question never treated that way? Crossing off options is a form of increase in information. And the significant question for science writing is, why is there no honest discussion of these problems? Every baffle is treated as a breathless Aha! Because… why?

Also: Telegraph:

See also: Yes, this again: Baboons make sounds like those of human speech

Are apes entering the Stone Age?


Can we talk? Language as the business end of consciousness

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