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Complex languages in other species


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I've known for a while that after humans, dolphins are considered the most intelligent race. Some even say that from a biological point of view, dolphins are capable of even more intelligence and "processing power" than man! But among the many things intelligence implies, the part I'm curious about for this discussion is language. From what I understood, dolphins communicate via sonar in a way similar to the morse code. I used to think that this is an ability only them and perhaps a few undiscovered races possess. But several days ago, I saw a documentary about prairie dogs and their communication system, which revealed something surprising: They store information in the frequency of wave lengths in each squeak, which act similar to letters... or something like that. If that's indeed true, it is actually more optimal than the spoken language of people, as we have to form rather long words and sentences to describe something.

 

Anyway, there are mainly two curiosities I had. First of all, what are the known species which have a complex spoken language? By complex, I mean not barking just to make noise in order to attract attention, but making noises which store actual information. From what I've seen recently, this is more present in nature than at least I expected... and that's a wonderful thing!

 

My second and biggest curiosity however, is if people were able to decode any such languages yet. The film about prairie dogs failed to mention that, but gave the impression scientists are rather at the stage of discovering this exists at all. For dolphins however, I heard better news some time ago, as an expert in this field stated "we should finish decoding their language in 4 or 5 years". Sounds promising enough.

 

A funny yet considerable thought that this lead me to, is if someday tablets or smartphones might contain converters for animal languages. If there is indeed information in some creature's squeaks or sonar clicks, a device with a capable microphone could analyze the wave length of a sound and separate the different frequencies, then assign the output to a common word and print it. Oppositely, the user could select words from a list, each word assigned to a function which generates and plays an audio file containing the proper clicks or squeaks. As an idea it might sound rather weird, but I think it would be quite a thing if this was realistically possible.

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