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Chen Xiu Wei, Fanvian 1 Introduction to Linguistics

In 200 words, explain the main differences between human language and animal communication.

Both human beings and animal have their own communication system. They have their unique characteristics and are different from each other. The main difference between human language and animal communication is that human beings communicate through language while animals communicate by body language and gestures. Human language combines new basic elements such as words to create sentences. However, animals do not have language because they do not know about syntax. They communicate by gestures and sign languages. For instance, chimpanzees are taught American Sign Language to use sign language to communicate. Furthermore, infinite messages can be delivered that the person wants through human language. They can even tell in detail where, when and how was the incident happened. On the other hand, animals do not have such ability. They can only deliver limited set of objects by using limited set of signals. Some of the examples of the messages are food and sex. Animals cannot explain a story to others besides simple messages that have certain signals. For instance, bees dance to show the location of the food to their mates. Moreover, human language is stimulus-free. What human beings are talking about is not always caused by any external stimulus. They can not only talk about the current and immediate context but also the past history. However, animal communication normally only occurs as a response to a stimulus. For example, a vervet monkey will give alarm calls by running under a bush or under the cover of the branches of a tree when it sees eagles cruising in the sky. In conclusion, human beings and animals have their own ways to communicate with their own community and they are entirely different.