- What is language?
- Do Animals Have Language?
- How many Languages are there?
- How do we count Languages?
- How are they related to each other?
- What do Linguists do?
- How do they get their Data?
- What are informants
There are three dimensions in which language, human and animal language are different:
- Discrete Infinity
- Joint Attention
Discrete: Limited or Countable,
Discrete System: A system with a limited number of things in it. Ex: The Alphabet: 26 Letters.
However, those limited things can be combined to create more and more complex sentences, an infinite number. = Discrete Infinity, a limited system combined in infinite ways.
In contrast animals have discrete systems as well, however they cannot combine them to make more complex sentences.
Displacement: Talking about Time, Physical Space and Abstract Ideas. Some animals can talk about space (e.x Bees – dancing, showing honey) but most can only talk about the here and now, things they’ve seen.
Joint Attention: Language is inherently cooperative, a shared goal.
To some extent some animals can work together but not in the way humans do.
- Humans can make an unlimited amount of messages with a discrete system
- Humans can talk about things other than here and now
- Language is a cooperative tool for humans