Thursday, February 6, 2020

Penguin Language Obeys Same Rules as Human Speech

Penguins are known for exhibiting a number of traits shared with humans – including monogamous relationships, same sex partnerships and, according to some studies, even prostitution. 

Now a new study published in the Biology Letters journal has found the animals obey some of the same rules of linguistics as humans. 

Researchers recorded and analysed 590 ecstatic display songs from 28 adult African penguins (also known as Cape penguins; scientific name Spheniscus demersus), belonging to three different colonies in Italian zoos, during the breeding periods in 2016 and 2017 – and these birds follow two main laws – that more frequently used words are briefer (Zipf's law of brevity), and longer words are composed of extra but briefer syllables (the Menzerath-Altmann law). 

Dr Livio Favaro of the University of Torino and colleagues say this is the first instance of these laws observed outside primates, suggesting an ecological pressure of brevity and efficiency in animal vocalisations. Indeed, information compression is a general principle of human language. 

The research was led by the Equipe de Neuro-Ethologie Sensorielle of the University of Lyon/Saint-Etienne. 

Yesterday, I was at Brunsfield Oasis Tower 3 in Oasis Square, Ara Damansara in Selangor for the HAITS Toastmasters meeting. I was there as the General Evaluator. 

I found it a good meeting. And for a corporate club, they have done well. Indeed, they deserve my plaudits.

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