Tit Birds Use Advanced Syntax to Communicate

"Syntax Isn't Used only by Human"

Japanese reseachers discovered that Tit birds have their own syntax.

BEACON TRANSCRIPT – It would seem that humans are not the only ones who makes use of syntax in order to formulate meaningful sentences. A new research project revealed that a species of Japanese birds use a rudimentary form of syntax to convey messages to other birds. The scientists discovered that Tit birds use advanced syntax to communicate.

As we know, the syntax is that part of grammar which teaches us how to organize words within a sentence to convey meaning. Moreover, we also learn from the grammar that humans manage to express their thoughts both in writing and speaking by using a combination of compositional syntax and phonology.

While syntax ensures that the arrangement of words bears some kind of meaning, phonology takes sounds and transforms them into something that can be understood by the person or persons we are talking to.

Bearing these aspects in mind, a team of Japanese researchers began a 10-year study of the Tit bird’s ways of communication.

As in the case of humans, the syntax is crucial for the Tit birds. If the sequence of words is incorrect, then a bird won’t understand the meaning of the message.

Previous language studies have revealed that primates, like chimps, tend to add “oh” at the end of each sentence. Thus, a sentence ending with that specific interjection has a more urgent nuance. For instance, when facing danger, the researcher noted that chimps tend to place a lot of ohs at the end of their sentences.

Toshitaka Suzuki, the leading author of the study, declared that during the 10-year field research, he and his team have uncovered some fascinating data on the Tit bird’s method of communication. Not only is the Tit language government by its syntax, but the lack of proper wording can make the difference between survival and death.

Suzuki and his team managed to identify over a dozen calls and call type during their study, each of them adding a particular nuance to the bird’s language.

The researchers observed that the wording used by birds to warn other members of predator was an ABC schema. Each time a predator was lurking by, the birds would communicate to one another using the ABC syntax.

Once the danger has passed, the word sequence scheme would shift from ABC to ABC-D, the researchers claiming that the “D” found at the end of the sentence means that the area is safe again.

To see whether their assessments were correct or not, the team of Japanese scientists used a reverse scheme to reach out to the birds. Instead of the ABC-D, they’ve used D-ABC. The birds didn’t respond to the call, letting the researchers believe that maybe other birds apart from the Tit use this phrasing.

In the end, Suzuki noted that more research is needed in order to bridge the language gap between man and beast.

Photo credits:wikipedia

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