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Friday, April 30, 2010

Chimpanzee Vocalizations

I mentioned in my last post that when Bow got upset with me about the apple, he started screaming. Now, of course, all I mean by that is that it sounded like inarticulate screaming to me. But Bow claims that when he does that, it's not screaming. He insists that he is talking, but I'm too deaf or slow to understand him.

Chimpanzee vocalizations are generally higher pitched and faster than our own speech. Consonants, or syllable onset, the period of time before the vowel is heard, are shorter. This means that for a human being to identify a chimp's attempt at a consonant using the naked ear and in real time is pretty much impossible.

Research is currently being undertaken to see if there is some way to identify hidden contrasts in chimpanzee and bonobo vocalizations.

Meanwhile, Bow is kept completely isolated and not allowed to talk via phone or Skype with other chimps and bonobos. Is there any logical reason for the total embargo on communication with Project Bow?

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