Hey Baby, hey baby, hey

I got Danny, mostly, to research animal intelligence and to teach her to speak. I read that budgies have the record for the most # of words spoke - 1700 which means that they have the capacity to verbalize English for sure - but I wanted to know how much of those words they understood. Could they say "Give me food" or "I want broccoli for dinner" or "I want a new toy" or even answer questions like "What color is this?" or "What kind of animal is this?" These are things that some animals are capable of - African Grey Parents especially. If you train them you can hold up something and they can tell you what color it is what it's made out of and information like that. Many people will say "they are just doing what they are trained to do and just mimicking words they don't understand." Which is weird because what is a person doing if you ask them- "What color is this?" And they answer? Or if a child says "I want a cookie" how is that different than if an animal were able to say the same thing? Dogs can definitely let you know they want something. They can stand by the door with their leash in their mouth, they can stand by their food bowl and cry - some dogs are capable of levels of intelligence and understanding both of 'commands' as they are of our emotions and what is going on around them. 

This Border Collie is is capable of learning almost anything you could imagine a dog capable of doing - except one very disappointing thing - being able to talk. It only  has it's body language to talk BACK but it can understand many words and phrases and signs. If it had the physical capacity to modulate their 'barks' into words there is little doubt they could verbalize "yes, no" and things like "Walk, I want to go for a walk, now, hurry, please please please" we know they understand the words you can say: "Want to go for a walk" and they know exactly what you are saying. You can tell a border collie to go get a specific toy and it will go get THAT toy out of a pile of dozens of toys. They understand the spoken word - but they are unable to talk back because of the structure of their vocal cords.

Another animal that is super intelligent is the Dolphin and they are on par or superior to a Border Collie in communication between themselves. They can make all kinds of noises and clicks to such a degree that they are able to visualize the world around them by these noises - echo location. There is no doubt that they are able to communicate to each other through sounds, as are whales and elephants and birds. There are a couple problems with trying to teach a dolphin to speak English though - first they are in water and difficult to study. You would have to find one that was appropriate - then be able to stay in the water with it for hours a day and all the other difficulties that have nothing to do with it's "ability" to learn or to speak.

This has actually been attempted and was working but then through some weird ass circumstances was stopped. Long story short a guy wanted to study Dolphin communication and if they could learn to talk - so he built a house on a beach and made is so he could keep dolphins in it. Then this girl showed up and wanted to help and decided she would live with one of the male dolphins 24/7 to teach him like you would a child - and it was working (perhaps too well- the dolphin fell in love with her..) and then the guy who started all of this went a little crazy and tried to give all of the Dolphins LSD and the project ended. The dolphins were sent to these terrible places and the male dolphin killed himself.

What's interesting about that story is that it was working but only lasted a couple months. The dolphin was able to start answering with sounds - attempting to say the words in English but couldn't' quite figure it out. So he would be like "eeeeeeeelllleeeee" for "hello" but he could get the tone change correct. Imagine that someone said something to you and you had to repeat it but you could only do it through a whistle. Or that you could answer but only by humming. It would be obvious that you were repeating the same sound but you couldn't make out more complex sounds or words and definitely not phrases. If you said "say hello how are you" you could say it back by humming and it would be apparent you were trying to say the same thing. But taken out of context "Hello how are you" via humming or whistling sounds just like any other similar phrase. So even if you were saying something specific it couldn't be understood correctly unless you knew what they were saying. That doesn't mean they don't know what THEY are saying but that they cannot say it in a way that you can clearly understand.

Another way to consider it would be like only being able to communicate via whistling. That could be possible with Morse code - you could just whistle it but that is kind of tedious and complicated. There are actually people who can communicate with whistling alone.

What's really interesting is that what I played that video Danny started to try to call back to it like she does when she hears birds.

Anyways. Imagine that instead of that Girl who knew relatively nothing about dolphins or language was someone who did - and was able to speak in a whistle language - that would be something a dolphin could not only understand but SPEAK BACK IN. They are already communicating that way but using a different language. People speaking in other languages sounds like gibberish depending on how close it is to your own. I can't even make out a single word in most other languages besides Spanish and even some heavy accents in our own language can be difficult to understand. So now imagine how difficult it would be to tell what someone is saying in a whistle language.

What you COULD recognize was that it WAS communication. You can hear birds talking to each other and know they are communicating - even if you don't know what they are saying in the same way that you can hear people conversing in another language.

So we have to have a type of communication that each communicator is CAPABLE of generating and capable of hearing physically.

Then each side must be fluent enough to understand how to talk and what is being said - to know that language. Then both sides have to actually ATTEMPT communication - pay attention - and be interested in communicating.

They also must be intelligent enough to understand the language. Saying and understanding "Feed me" is something almost anything could understand and almost every animal is able to communicate that to their parents while growing up.

The next aspect is the level of education and the time invested in the individual. You could know hundreds of thousands of words and are capable of talking about physics and interstellar travel but your conversations with a 1.5 year old human are going to be limited to what they are capable of understanding mentally - even if they are capable of using their mouths to generate any word or sound. Now imagine what it took for you to go from a toddler who could only say "Dog" "mom" "food" to someone who can understand these written sentences?  You go from single sounds to letters to words to sentences and work your way up. How long does that take? Months to years to decades. This requires a constant and persistent attempt to TEACH someone or something language. If you stop or don't even try - they will not learn to communicate. There is also certain time frame and if it isn't learned during these developmental phases then it  either makes it difficult or impossible later on.

This is an example of a girl who was kept tied to a "Potty chair" until she was older. She didnt know how to speak and was what we would consider "anamalistic" or "wild" - as you would imagine anything would be if it was not taught ANYTHING. The question with this is would she be able to 'catch up' or was she going to be permanently "wild" and missed the window to learn language? This is a question that is nearly impossible to answer because it, thankfully, almost never happens. Where do you find an example of a child that didn't learn any language until they are older? The problem with this case - and its' pretty much the only one - is that it's possible she was mentally handicapped already when she was born and that she wouldn't' have learned language or wasn't capable mentally anyways. The other issue is that the people "testing" if she would be able to learn could have been doing it wrong or were incapable teachers - and regardless they gave up too soon anyways. Perhaps if she was born 'normally developed mentally' and she had better teaching and they stuck with it should could eventually learn to speak as well as anyone else? The question is if you don't use it - you lose the ability to speak completely. This is similar to children being able to pick up multiple languages more easily than adults - but that doesn't mean adults cannot - just that children can quicker.

What this means for teaching an animals to speak is that it's possible that they HAVE to be a certain age and you HAVE to teach them in a specific WAY - and you HAVE to continue this education indefinitely or until they are capable of the level of communication you are attempting to teach them to reach. If your goal was to teach your parrot a couple phrases - then once they learned them - you may stop trying and then they would stop learning. Little do you know that they are capable of learning literally hundreds if not thousands of words and phrases. It would be like if you were to stop teaching a child to speak after they learned "yes, no please and thank you" then never teaching them anything else. With humans they pick up language anyways even if you are not specifically teaching them after a certain point. Keep in mind that humans are kept with speaking people 24/7 until they go to school and then are educated for 8 hrs a day 5 days a week for almost 20 years or more. Without education people would only ever be able to communicate in words and ideas they knew or were exposed to.

Examples of people who are capable of advanced English (or any language) communication that never advance further than an almost toddler level are vast. Most of the world was illiterate and how far a person advances depends on their environment and the education of those around them. I am not talking about intelligence or how how smart someone is but LANGUAGE and communication levels. If someone is not taught to read and their parents only know, 1000 words - they are only going to be able to learn 1000 words. The "taki taki" language only has 340 words!

  • Language with the fewest words: Taki Taki (also called Sranan), 340 words. Taki Taki is an English-based Creole spoken by 120,000 in the South American country of Suriname.
  • According to David Crystal the average English speaker knows about 60,000 words that they actively use and 75,000 passive that could be understood. 2000-3000 words in a language will let you understand 90-95% of what's commonly said. 
You also have to consider basic conversational language compared to what would be required to read a physics or advanced  biology book.

This entire blog post could be explained in more simple terms:  "Can animals talk" or "Teach animal talk" or "why animal no talk" or more so "Animals can talk if know how to teach."

It's possible to know very advanced concepts and information but only have a limited language to communicate them in. If I had to re-write this or explain it in another language it would look a lot different and be a lot shorter. I only know a little Spanish so it would be something.

Animal boca escribe  yo soy biblioteca bueno, si, en muy profesor mucho tiempo e no loco.

Animals can learn to talk (mouth write) if you teach them,are a good teacher, take a lot of time, and have a lot of patience.

Those are the only words I know in Spanish that I could use in the most simple way to describe this. Obviously in English I can do it more thoroughly and accurately. I used "Boca escribe" (mouth + write) because I forgot "hablar" is to talk. I used "biblioteca" library, instead of "teach" because I didn't know that word and figured  library and professor are like saying "teacher or teaching or teach" and "muy time no loco" (lots of time and no angry/ crazy) for "have patience and take your time. "

To a Spanish speaker I would sound stupid or childish - but that is only because I do not know that many Spanish words or the proper grammar and how to use the right yo so la, conjunctions, feminine or masculine forms - etc. I have always had a problem understanding that in English let alone in Spanish.

So now lets get back to my new baby budgie Danny. Like I said I'm trying to teach her to talk.

I know budgies are capable physically of verbalizing and making English sounds and words and sentences.
I know they are capable of hundreds of different words - up to over 1000.

It requires constant and persistent and deliberate teaching.
It takes an extended period of time. - It can take a human baby months or years to learn to speak words - even if they know them in their mind.

She knows her name is "Danny" but she may not be able to make the sound D or aaa'ny yet.

I have to keep her interested and her attention. I get about a minute of her paying attention to "lets try to say Danny" before she will get bored and start doing something else.

It must be annoying and tedious to hear "What is your name? what is your name - say Danny" over and over everyday but she has to be able to say the basic sounds before she can speak other words - even if she knows them. THEN once she is trying to speak them she has to practice them over and over until she can say them clearly.

In the same way that you have to learn to walk and develop hand eye, muscle coordination - you also have to physically train your vocal cords - and your mouth - and your tongue and your breath control to make certain sounds to vocalize words. Learning to use a keyboard/ piano - half of the battle is getting your fingers to do what you want them to as much as it is knowing music. This is why people who have strokes or brain damage have to RE-learn to use their hands and mouths even though they know how to speak and know langue - they lost the muscle/ physical conditioning they learned as a child and was re-enforced every-time they spoke. This is probably the biggest difficulty for most animals in learning 'human' language - they cannot or it is extremely difficult and time consuming and tedious to use what they have to make the same sounds.

I can't whistle very well and at first I couldn't' even make the whistle noise - just air. I am getting better but it does not come easy to me and is frustrating and will require a daily effort and constant practice to get better and even then I will only ever be as good as the physical structures of my mouth will allow for.

The difficulty in teaching Danny to speak English is made very clear when I consider how hard it is for me to learn a new language. I did the Rosetta stone and gave up after like one lesson - even though I was learning. I was like - why am I going to take the time to learn this when I don't have to and I could spend that time working on the language I already know. it makes me feel stupid that I can't remember a word I just heard 10 seconds ago. It would probably be easier for DANNY if I were to learn how to whistle but then I would 1. have to learn to whistle and be able to make the sounds she does (if that was even possible) and 2. I would not only have to learn myself - but develop or use some kind of whistle language. That would be even harder than learning Spanish which I took for 4 years and can barely speak at all.

So that is the dilemma in teaching Danny to speak English.

Its like I just want her to say "Hey Baby" which I must have said to her, literally, 1000 times - and she hasn't' been able to say it back. She is definitely attempting to learn and to make the sounds I am trying to teach her - she is also getting better and better. It's kinda like when you try to get a baby to say "da da da da" and they wont - they will BABEL but you're waiting for that special day when they say their FIRST WORD. Which really means their first "Clearly understandable ENGLISH word" - i'm waiting!

The INDIVIDUAL capacity for language varies not only by species but also within the species.Meaning that one bird under the exact same circumstances may only be capable of learning a few words or none at all while another one could be like a super-hero talker. Although the biggest variable between a bird that doesn't' speak at all and one that learns hundreds of phases is the dedication, determination, creativity, and obsession level of the teacher.

The people who are crazy enough to think of stuff like this and that it is possible are the ones who are going to make it happen.

  • Number of living languages: 6912
  • Number of those languages that are nearly extinct: 516
  • Language with the greatest number of native speakers: Mandarin Chinese [See Top 30 languages]
  • Language spoken by the greatest number of non-native speakers: English (250 million to 350 million non-native speakers)
  • Country with the most languages spoken: Papua New Guinea has 820 living languages. [See Top 20 countries]
  • How long have languages existed: Since about 100,000 BC
  • First language ever written: Sumerian or Egyptian (about 3200 BC)
  • Oldest written language still in existence: Chinese or Greek (about 1500 BC)
  • Language with the most words: English, approx. 250,000 distinct words 
  • Language with the fewest words: Taki Taki (also called Sranan), 340 words. Taki Taki is an English-based Creole spoken by 120,000 in the South American country of Suriname.
  • Language with the largest alphabet: Khmer (74 letters). This Austro-Asiatic language is the official language of Cambodia, where approx.12 million people speak it. Minority speakers live in a handful of other countries.
  • Language with the shortest alphabet: Rotokas (12 letters). Approx. 4300 people speak this East Papuan language. They live primarily in the Bougainville Province of Papua New Guinea.
  • The language with the fewest sounds (phonemes): Rotokas (11 phonemes)
  • The language with the most sounds (phonemes): !Xóõ (112 phonemes). Approx. 4200 speak !Xóõ, the vast majority of whom live in the African country of Botswana.
  • Language with the fewest consonant sounds: Rotokas (6 consonants)
  • Language with the most consonant sounds: Ubyx (81 consonants). This language of the North Causasian Language family, once spoken in the Haci Osman village near Istanbul, has been extinct since 1992. Among living languages, !Xóõ has the most consonants (77).
  • Language with the fewest vowel sounds: Ubyx (2 vowels). The related language Abkhaz also has 2 vowels in some dialects. There are approximately 106,000 Abkhaz speakers living primarily in Georgia.
  • Language with the most vowel sounds: !Xóõ (31 vowels)
  • The most widely published language: English
  • Language with the fewest irregular verbs: Esperanto (none)
  • Language which has won the most Oscars: Italian (12 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film)
  • The most translated document: Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, written by the United Nations in 1948, has been translated into 321 languages and dialects.
  • The most common consonant sounds in the world's languages: /p/, /t/, /k/, /m/, /n/
  • Longest word in the English language: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (45 letters)
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