The Complex Communication of Gibbons Essay

Decent Essays
This article discusses the form of communication that Gibbon monkeys use amongst their species. The argument that appears to be present throughout this article is that Gibbons are not only able to communicate with each other, but also that their communication system shares certain features with the human language system. Although I agree that this species’ communication system shares particular design features with the human language, the definition of language attests that this type of communication is not considered a language.
The first of the five core design features discussed throughout this paper is semanticity. Semanticity is defined as specific sound signals that are directly tied to certain meanings (Bauer, 2006, pp.
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However, I would argue the part of this design feature that deems this species’ communication as a definite, closed system. For instance, researchers describe Gibbon songs as including varying pitches that they use to combine up to seven notes to create more complex structures or phrases ("Singing for Survival," 2006). In the human language system, the meaning of symbols and/or signals vary depending on certain contexts and situations. It appears that Gibbons have some capability to change their songs based on different situations they are engaging in such mating, warnings, etc. Therefore, I’ve concluded that these abilities demonstrate a certain amount of productivity. However, this species does not the competency to use an unlimited amount of utterances, which would essentially eliminate them from fully having this design feature in their communication system.
Displacement is a design feature of language that we as humans are able to use to reference the past, future, and the hypothetical. It refers to the human language system’s ability to communicate about things that are not present spatially, temporally, and/or realistically. According to “Language Matters”, displacement is defined as the ability to talk about events remote in time and place (Bauer, 2006, pp. 49-57). Although
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