Post Reply Baboons produce vocalizations comparable to vowels
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Posted 1/14/17
Baboons produce vocalizations comparable to vowels. This has been demonstrated using acoustic analyses of vocalizations coupled with an anatomical study of the tongue muscles and the modeling of the acoustic potential of the vocal tract in monkeys. The data confirm that baboons are capable of producing at least five vocalizations with the properties of vowels, in spite of their high larynx, and that they are capable of combining them when they communicate with their partners. The vocalizations of baboons thus point to a system of speech among non-human primates.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170112143111.htm




Baboons produce vocalizations comparable to vowels. This is what has been demonstrated by an international team coordinated by researchers from the Gipsa-Lab (CNRS/Grenoble INP/Grenoble Alpes University), the Laboratory of Cognitive Psychology (CNRS/AMU), and the Laboratory of Anatomy at the University of Montpellier, using acoustic analyses of vocalizations coupled with an anatomical study of the tongue muscles and the modeling of the acoustic potential of the vocal tract in monkeys. Published in PLOS ONE on January 11, 2017, the data confirm that baboons are capable of producing at least five vocalizations with the properties of vowels, in spite of their high larynx, and that they are capable of combining them when they communicate with their partners. The vocalizations of baboons thus point to a system of speech among non-human primates.

Language is a distinctive characteristic of the human species. The question of its origins and how it evolved is one of the most intractable in all science. One of the dominant theories in this field associates the possibility of producing differentiated sounds, the basis of spoken communication, with the "descent of the larynx" observed over the course of the evolution of Homo sapiens. This theory argues that human speech requires a low larynx (in relation to the cervical vertebrae) and that a high larynx, as found in baboons (Papio papio), prevents the production of a system of vocalizations analogous to the vowel system that exists in all languages.

According to this theory, only humans over the age of one can produce differentiated sounds, whereas babies, Neanderthal man and all species of monkey are incapable of doing so because their larynx is positioned too high. Researchers from the Gipsa-Lab (CNRS/Grenoble INP/Grenoble Alpes University) had already shown that the high position of the larynx in babies and Neanderthals is not a handicap in terms of producing different vowels. However, it remained to be proved that monkeys, in particular baboons, were indeed capable of producing these types of vocalizations.

The researchers acoustically analyzed the vocalizations of baboons, performed an anatomical study of their tongue muscles, and modeled the acoustic potential of their vocal tract. They thereby discovered that these baboons produce sounds comparable to five human vowels [ɨ æ ɑ o u]. Researchers describe these sounds as "vowel-like" because they share some of the acoustic characteristics of vowels, without having all of their properties.

In addition, they show that the vowel-like sounds [ɑ] and are each used in two distinct vocalizations, produced depending on the situation, and that baboons can also produce a sequence of these two vowel-like sounds with the vocalization "wahoo." This protosystem combines with vibration frequencies of the vocal folds in a frequency range that is markedly wider than that of speech.

This demonstration of a vocalic protosystem in non-human primates confirms that they can produce different vocalizations, in spite of their high larynx1. Although monkeys do not produce speech sounds, the data suggest evolutionary links between the vocalizations of baboons and human phonological systems. More generally, spoken languages may have evolved from ancient articulatory skills already possessed by our last common ancestor Cercopithecoidae, around 25 million years ago.

This research was conducted thanks to close collaboration between many specialists from the Gipsa-Lab (CNRS/Grenoble INP/Grenoble Alpes University), the Laboratory of Cognitive Psychology (CNRS/AMU), the Laboratory of Anatomy at the University of Montpellier, the Speech and Language Laboratory (CNRS/AMU), and New College, University of Alabama. It received support from the Labex Brain & Language Research Institute (BRLI).




I know my dog makes different barks/growls depending on who comes to the door and I've gotten to where I can understand her somewhat. It's interesting to see the thinking that animals are stupid being dispelled.
Posted 1/14/17

Dogempire wrote:

Not surprising considering a baboon ran for president in 2016.


Can you people not fucking turn this into another political thread meme?
Posted 1/14/17
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Posted 1/14/17

TwinBlast wrote:


Dogempire wrote:

Not surprising considering a baboon ran for president in 2016.


Can you people not fucking turn this into another political thread meme?


Agreed. I made a post about baboons not politics. Even baboons have more manners than some people.
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Posted 1/15/17 , edited 1/15/17
I like the topic but that article is just dumb, extremely poorly written because of its ignorance.

The point of the research was to show that baboons can produce vowels despite the high larynx position. The value of actually doing that research is a bit questionable since we already have human examples. It's not freaking groundbreaking because we knew it was a possibility. But I guess somebody had to do it and make the actual observation. I've seen youtube videos of dogs that sing just like humans... If an animal that only barks can sing then why is it a surprise that non-human primates which share much more recent common ancestors than non-primates would be able to produce much similar sounds? Now for the article...

Obviously if a creature does not have the physical capacity to produce vowel sounds, then it won't be able to! Language isn't unique to humans. Animals communicate. There are different degrees of sophistication of course. But even orcas have dialects. Of course orcas don't communicate using human vowel sounds.

Not all human languages utilize vowels. A fair number of african languages are based purely on clicks.
Posted 1/15/17
Hardly surprising, but nice to see that some folks are studying it.
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Posted 1/15/17 , edited 1/15/17
One can get a better understanding of the info by visiting the original writing at http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0169321 and reading the Abstract, Introduction and Discussion.
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