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Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Human Sentences are "for the Birds"
Thunk would who have.
Excerpts from The Week magazine, July 15 issue (page 17, newsstand version) :
Humans aren’t the only animals capable of speaking in sentences ... ... Birds also use specific grammar rules to structure their tweets. Scientists played jumbled birdsong to Bengal finches and found that almost all of the birds refused to respond to certain remixes. “It’s as if you were presented with a sentence like ‘we will go to the zoo tomorrow,’” Gisela Kaplan, a professor of animal behavior at Australia’s University of New England, tellsABC Science.Some reordered versions of the sentence, such as “tomorrow we will go to the zoo,” still make sense, but “zoo go we will tomorrow the to” doesn’t. Finch songs, it seems, are no different, and like humans, the birds learn syntax by listening.