The Complex Communication of Gibbons

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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. 49-57). Gibbons emit their vocalizations, or calls, or certain reasons including responding and or warning of predators and as part of their daily mating routine. The most important aspect to note here is that while they may be subtle, there are differences between these two types of Gibbons songs. This indicates that these animals have a clear understanding of the different meanings behind the sounds that they are producing.
The Gibbon monkey also demonstrates the arbitrariness design feature of human language. Arbitrariness is defined as having no intrinsic or logical connection between a sound signal and its meaning (Bauer, 2006, pp. 49-57). This is further demonstrated by the fact that different communication systems, human or not, attribute very different names to the same object. While the exact sounds of these monkey’s calls are not known from this article, it is however determined that their songs and or calls have no natural connection to the object that is being symbolized.
Another core ...

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...s to create meaningful words, because the Gibbons are combining various sounds to create multifaceted structures that are meaningful to them. However, there is no way to know whether or not those sounds (‘wa’,’hoo’,’waoo’, etc.) are meaningless units and cannot stand alone to represent meaningful terms. This critical factor determines that this species does not demonstrate duality of patterning in their communication system.

Reference List
Bauer, L., Holmes, J., & Warren, P. (2006). Bee Talk and Monkey Chatter . Language matters (pp. 49-57). Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.
Public Library of Science. (2006, December 26). “Singing For Survival: Gibbons Scare Off Predators With 'Song'.” ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 3, 2014 from
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