Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Cats: Can they speak?

` It should be said that cats can articulate words surprisingly well. This one, when slowed down 2x sounds just like it's saying "no!" Indeed, I've heard the phrase 'Mikey likes it' - evidently, the cat does not like Mikey!

` Of course, there are so many different sounds a cat can articulate, as seen in these video clips: The first two cats evidently meow in certain ways that sound like words and are being encouraged to do so. The third cat apparently really likes its back to be scratched, caterwauling and then licking its lips. The fourth cat is clearly growling at something while gnashing its teeth and sounds like it's talking in gibberish. I was quite impressed with that one!

` In this video, you can see the target of the feline gibberish. When put in context, the growling cat doesn't seem so odd.
` In fact, there are even humans (who have evidently seen such talking animal videos too many times) which have apparently discovered the same thing applies to them!

` And, to my utter astonishment, a genuine 'scat cat'... seriously, it either rabidly likes jazz or is having a seizure.
` I'm scared now. I haven't seen anything like that since my chimera began foaming at the mouth from a ruptured flammable gas bladder.

` My conclusion on whether or not cats can speak is that a), cats can articulate vocalizations that do sound like words, and b) this is not actually like speech where you realize what you're talking about. Hence, it has entertainment value. Especially that last one.

` Apes, on the other hand, are not so good at verbal speech, though they are pretty good at at understanding the meaning of many words and can use them. However, they are not able to articulate words into sentences. (Example of something an ape often says: "Give me you, orange, me, give give orange, you me give.")
` I used to think that apes were better at this task until I learned that ape language researchers are usually very overzealous about their work and tend to be withdrawn from the scientific community. While apes do understand many of the signs they are purported to have learned, input from people who study apes in the wild as well as actual sign-language speakers are not able to see as many signs as the enthusiasts report, and indeed, view many 'signs' as natural behavior that happens in the absence of humans.
` The reason why is because humans have specialized areas of the brain for processing lanugage while apes have corresponding areas that are instead used for interpreting things like who made what sound and where. Therefore, the reason that apes are able to use some signs is because they are so intelligent that they can figure some of it out!
` Similarly, high-functioning autistic people - as they lack the specialized brain region for interacting with people - can use their smarts to sort-of get the hang of social situations. They never do develop that instinct, however, but they can still wing it.
` But yes, cats are clearly out of the league of apes when it comes to speech, and apes are clearly out of the league of even two-year-old humans when it comes to language. In any case, I would have to say that cats are just as hilarious when they make strange sounds as they are when they find themselves attached to ceiling fans.

` I love cats and all... but damn, I can't help but laugh at that poor cat! Lou thought it was so funny that he asked me to replay this video for him about six times.


Galtron said...

Oh Don Piano!!! That poor jazz cat needs veterinary help! As do those teenagers.

Why I eyes ya!

Oooooooh LongJohn!

I'm going to have to say, also, that the crazy longhair black cat sounds more like it's saying 'All the lung long day.'

I been workin' on the railroad, all the lung long day...

Has a nice ring, dontcha think?

Gareth said...

I once heard a bird saying "tweet". Does that count as talking?? :D

S E E Quine said...

` I been workin' in the coal mines, all the lung long day!
` I been workin' in the coal mines, just to make them stay away!
` I got me a case o' black lung, surely I tell ya it's no fun....

` Hey Gareth, once I heard a bird singing, but in a way unlike a bird! It was actually a song that went like this:

` Sweet Adeline!
` My Adeline!
` You're the flower of my heart, sweet Adeline!
` (Sweet A-de-line!)

` Really! In fact, I drew a picture of it, so that proves it!! :D

` Gotta watch out for those weird singing birds, man....


Anonymous said...

I bet the Jazz Cat's name is "Acid Reflux" or "Sir Foams-A-Lot"

S E E Quine said...

` It's clear to me now; that cat is doing an impression of a science fair volcano!