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How and to what Extent Does Language Make Humans Distinctive from Other Animals?
Most living creatures communicate in some way. Birds and whales sing, monkeys and chimpanzees chatter, dolphins click and squeak, even bees perform their elaborate waggle dance. Language however, involves arranging exact sounds in the correct grammatical order to convey a message. Sternberg (1995, p.345) defines human language as, "...an organised means of combining words in order to communicate." Clearly, human language is much, much more than arranging particular sounds. It is an outlet for our thoughts and desires, it allows us to convey our feelings, our hopes and dreams, we can even use language to deceive others or tell jokes. In fact, it is this complexity of human language that prompts researcher Sternberg to argue that language is solely a human ability. He comments, "Parrots may say certain words but they are not really using language . What they say is not organised and does not involve combining words to pass a message to others." (Sternberg, 1995, p.345)
So can it be assumed then that animals do not possess this quality? …
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