Song, Speech, and Animals

Or, a collection of interesting things, sometimes related to sound.

When people sing, they way they form their words often changes. In pop rock, for example, the “California shift” is observed, where people adopt a California accent. In heavy metal (seen especially in Elvis), a “Canada shift” is observed, predominantly characterized by dropping the ‘r’ sound. Nobody does this purposefully, however. They just shift because they have heard other singers do it.

There are two important parts to our language–the expression part (organization of a sentence and intonation)¬†and the lexical part (the core meaning of a sentence and actual meaning of words). Animals do these differently. For example, birds only use the tonal layer of expression to communicate (just the rhythm and notes). Many animals convey meaning through signs such as the bee’s waggle dance or the octopus changing color. Fish use electrical signals to communicate; unfortunately, we don’t know what they mean.

By the way, ‘octopus’ comes from Greek and the original plural was ‘octopodes’. Which sounds a lot cooler than the “correct” one, ‘octopuses’.

Supposedly, children listen first to tones when learning words, which perhaps could indicate that it’s easier to do so. There are very few animals (yay us being special) that we think heavily use both organization and intonation–a couple of primates, and definitely dolphins.

Prairie dogs are cool. Go watch a video about prairie dog language. (They have accents!!!! That’s so cool!!!!!)

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