Finch dialects

June 11th, 2007

This Language Log post reminded me of  a recent conversation at the currently blocked other Green Bamboo. Anyway, it would seem, judging from the contents of the Language Log post, that finches might perhaps have something like dialects. Or at least Flemish finches do. Or something. I don’t know, go read it yourself.

4 Responses to “Finch dialects”

  1. John Says:

    The word “dialect” seem inappropriate when applied to the variations in chaffinch songs within the British Isles … it is not so easy to pinpoint universal differences between areas, such as the word dialect would imply. That songs fall into types that are usually learnt accurately but sometimes less so leads to the variety of song, and the occurrence of several different lineages of song types within an area. The analogy with human dialects breaks down because all people in a particular isolated population have features in common with each and different from those elsewhere…

    So the analogy with human languages doesn’t quite work. Still, the birds are only learning limited inventory of phrases, whereas human languages go down to the level of words in the syntactic component. Birds have fixed phrases which precludes, I think, anything comparable with human language use.

    Perhaps we should ask Paris Hilton who is, after all, a complete bird brain.

  2. wangbo Says:

    Yeah, like I said in that other Green Bamboo comment thread, I would not accuse animals of possessing anything like language. It was just interesting, in the light of previous Language Log dissing of any suggestion of animal dialects and that conversation on the other Green Bamboo, to come across something that suggests the existence of an animal ‘dialect’, even if it is a dialect with Flemish finch characteristics.

    Personally, I think the less contact I have with Paris Hilton or any of her ilk, the better. You ask her. How the hell did that woman get to be famous, anyway? Or do I not want to know? Or do I want to know, with the photos emailed to me?

  3. John Says:

    There was a video. Take a guess what sort of video. I hear there are other rumours, too, about what she’ll do for Bogota’s Finest Nose Powder.

  4. wangbo Says:

    Uh, right. We’ll leave it at that.