Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
h a l f b a k e r y
The leaning tower of Piezo

idea: add, search, annotate, link, view, overview, recent, by name, random

meta: news, help, about, links, report a problem

account: browse anonymously, or get an account and write.



dolphin language

Dolphin daycare?
  (+6, -3)
(+6, -3)
  [vote for,

I've read that between the ages of three and five, children have no limit to the amount of languages they can learn, so why not dolphin? It would require a glass walled aquarium allowing the toddlers to see and interact with a dolphin mother and her young calf, (is that the right word?), or perhaps unborn calf. With how well water carries sound and a dolphin’s incredible frequency range it wouldn’t surprise me if dolphins begin learning language in uterus. A computer program could change sounds beyond the range of human hearing made by the dolphins into sounds audible to the children. A child size key board with large brightly colored buttons which together reproduce all the different recorded clicks and whistles, audible and inaudible, would let the children mimic what they are hearing between the mother and baby. Just a few hours a day over the course of a couple of years and you would think that the kids would pick up the language by osmosis.

(??) the dolphins are coming http://www.theonion..._evolve_thumbs.html
we're all going to have to learn soon anyway [chud, Oct 05 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Mantis eyes, well mantis shrimp. http://www.blueboar...ntis/bio/vision.htm
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Dec 16 2004]

Noam Chomsky http://www.chomsky.info/
[DrBob, Dec 20 2004]

Cymascope. http://dvice.com/ar...cymascope-machi.php
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Aug 30 2010]


       This may be worth a look. Bud could understand Flipper, and they hadn't even known each other all that long.
Amos Kito, Oct 01 2002

       Oh boy, here we go again. Which particular dolphin language are you proposing to teach them? North Atlantic or East Pacific?
PeterSilly, Oct 02 2002

       I wonder if those two dolphin languages are like Mandarin and Cantonese... differently spoken but the same written down?
Jinbish, Oct 02 2002

       // use your child as a guinea pig //   

       You mean like the peruvains do ? Let them scamper round for a couple of years, fatten them up, then deep-fry them ?   

       Hmm, sounds OK .......
8th of 7, Oct 02 2002

       [austere], how do you know this about dolphins? How do you know what they are thinking? (Do dolphins only live in areas where trees are not visible from the water?)
bristolz, Oct 02 2002

       [austere]: <pedant>Rosetta</pedant>   

       I think one of the celtic 'bakers on a previous thread asked what we would talk to dolphins about, and ended up with something along the lines of trying to sell cheese or thermal underwear to them. I find it hard enough to find conversation points in common with lots of my own species, let alone bringing dolphins into the equation. "Say, Flipper, how's things?" "Cold and wet."
PeterSilly, Oct 02 2002

       I think that you're overly pessimistic, austere. Lot's of pet owners communicate (as opposed to talk) with animals. Clearly they must have a some common frame of reference in order to do so, limited though it may be. I just don't think that we, as a species, have got a whole lot to talk about that would keep any animal interested much past lunchtime.
DrBob, Oct 02 2002

       [austere] Visualizing in 4D is quite easy. Why do you say it's beyond comprehension?
dag, Oct 02 2002

       Nick@Nite, I do believe most of what you say - you seem a genuine sort of bloke. However, I do not believe your cat indicates she wants to play with the laser pointer. the whole point of that game is that you fool the cat into chasing something e.g. a spider. I am pretty sure the cat is not conscious that it is a game. I would be fascinated to hear your cat is that aware.
po, Oct 02 2002

       3 of mine will play oblivious that I am controlling the little dot. the other one knows I am responsible and does not play. so I have one bright cat and 3 dim ones and you have one conscious playful cat - what does all this prove ?- sorry, 2 fries.
po, Oct 02 2002

       I have to side with [Nick@Nite] about cats being able to indicate desires with some sophistication. My cat, for example, makes it clear when he prefers that I retrieve the Unabridged Websters 3rd instead of the Collegiate edition for his use.
bristolz, Oct 02 2002

       [bris] anno - stay! ggrrr stay!
po, Oct 02 2002

       I'm not sure that a Rosetta stone would be nessesary for a basic vocabulary between our two species, I think that there would be enough "words" which are common to both, that basic communication past the, want a fish ? heres the hoop, stage could be initiated, and that our children with their lack of preconcieved notions or ingrained prejudices stand a much better chance of uncovering a rudimentary lingo than us. Besides, if we can't find a way to talk to the one critter we have come across on this planet that most agree may be close to our intelligence, how are we ever going to be able to communicate with one that is'nt ? (planet, not intelligence)   

       //WIBNI we could talk to the animals. We can't and I firmly believe we never will.// Its well documented that humans can speak to chimps and gorrilas by the use of sign language, the reason they cant talk is that their vocal chords arn't as developed as ours, the only problem is that we can only talk to the ones that are brought up in captivity as when introduced to sign incapeable gorrillas or chimps they see them as animals so speaking to wild gorrillas or chimps is impossible now, but a gorrilla that has been taught sign language will then teach it to their offspring. Maby introducing a sign capeable gorrilla to a wild group will mean that eventually they all learn to sign and we can then talk to them. It is still impossible to hold an adult conversation with them as they behave like young children thoughout their lives.
Gulherme, Oct 03 2002

       //Aquatic animals have less in common with us//   

       Where do you draw the line? Do you expect there to be far less in common between us just because of our environment? A chimp and a human being have very different environments, too, y'know. And I'd say there's a helluva lot more in common between a human and a dolphin than a human and a lizard, or a spider. And we live in very similar environments, with a great deal in common.   

       No, what we have in common with dolphins is very powerful - similar brain sizes, and more importantly, similar brain and psychological structures. The rest is overcome easily in comparison.
yamahito, Oct 03 2002

       A soloution came to me like a flash of lightning. In order to speak to dolphins we would need to have an interpreter and what better animal than a seal, they live in the water and out of the water, they are smart (maby not as smart as a dolphin but still pretty damn smart) learn seal language and then get the seals to learn dolphin language, then we get the seals to explain what dolphins are saying and eventually when we learn what the dolphins are saying through the seals we can drop the seal from the equation and only use them when a rare or new word or phrase comes up.
Gulherme, Oct 05 2002

       By George, I think he's got it!
calum, Oct 05 2002

       Is anyone familiar with experiments on communicating with dolphins, done by John C. Lilly inventor of the isolation tank? He noticed that dolphins had an incredible aptitude for sound mimickery. So much so that he hoped - not to learn dolphin, but to teach the dolphins english. He used them in isolation tanks with him and spent 4years in an isolation tank injecting ketamine, and giving the dolphin LSD. He wrote more than ten books on the subjects, and is convinced, of course, that dolphins are psychic.
Wakarimasen, Feb 08 2003

       <dolphin>eeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeee</dolphin>
<seal>he said he's tired of mackerel</seal>
thumbwax, Feb 08 2003

       <talking dolphin> oh i say, a land dweller who likes fish raw and whole, i believe i have made a new dining friend... </talking dolphin> <gollum> nice fisssches </gollum>   

       Our bodies and Dolphins' are really big sacks of fluid, when emersed in water we become transparent to dolphin sonar. Just like a ultrasound scan the entire internal structure of the body becomes transparent. This is why dolphins and whales immediately recognise us as mammals and they probably note the simularity in structure (they could see air filled lungs, large brain, etc.) to themselves. In a small way it prevents us from being (a very easy!) lunch since orca have a taste for seals, but wont eat people. Dolphins and Orca take particular interest in pregnant human divers as they can see the feotus in the womb. Some research I've read shows dolphin calves in the womb do hear adults in the outside world, and from a early stage of development probably understand whats going on out there. In the later stages of development they even talk back from within the womb. On a side note, dolphins would see that creatures with bigger brains are smarter, and would realise the significance of humans when visited. Quite incredible to think about. As for dolphin language, I don't think the human brain has much chance of understanding it. I think alot of research has lost the plot comletely. While dolphins can play games with balls with people (and people usually end up being the ones played with) and understand logical problems I think they communicate in a more abstract psuedo-visual way. Since their sonar is their sight and also their communication medium, they'd communicate with sonar imagery. It would be just like if we could beam images directly to each other heads, we could send a image of a scene, describe movement etc. but importantly we'd communicate abstract ideas and thoughts with pictoglyphs. Not unlike out primitive forms of writing. The dolphin words for "fat" "juciey" "tuna" would mimic, in a simplified form, the sonar returns from a actual tuna.   

       I think researchers should be trying to translate dolphin sound into images, because thats what dolphins very obviously speak in.   

       So no, I don't think a toddler would stand a chance!
venomx, Apr 14 2003

       You make a lot of assertions there, [venomx]. Where, pray tell, do you get all of your information about what, why and how dolphins and whales think? I should like to study your sources, please.
bristolz, Apr 14 2003

       The two dolphins in the tank, the scientist with the recorder stuck in the water....the one dolphin say to the other, "I hope they learn our language soon, so I can tell them to go to hell."
Eugene, Apr 14 2003

       Now all we need is Lucas Wolenchez to lead the project :)
eion, Apr 15 2003

       There's a minor problem with this. The study you read, 2 fries, doubtless refered, or meant to refer to 'human language.' While this is a clever extension of what you read, there's one reason that I know of to suspect, it won't work.   

       The passing linguistic theory at the moment (I'm writing a paper on it, that's how I came across halfbakery.com), called Tranformational Generative (TG, but that's not important) was thought up by a guy called Noam Chomsky. One of his opinions, which isn't exaclty universal, is that there's some part of the human brain, that evolved somewhere after we split from the chimpanzee line, that encodes tha basic rules of grammar, i.e., what a noun is, a verb, etc. Pretty much every human language has a few of these things in common. If dolphins have, indeed, evolved their own language node (I'm making that term up, don't quote me), it's liable to function entirely differently from the human. If you ask for an example, of how fundamentally different the language could be, I can't answer; that's exactly what I'm talking about. I have no concept, and I assume I'm not alone in this, of a non- noun-based language.   

       Though, I must give you credit on one other point: the difference in medium should NOT be a problem. The human language node isn't specfic to sounds from the larynx: there are languages in South Africa (Xhosa) and one in the Canary Islands that are based around a set of variously pitched whistles and clicks.   

       Nevertheless, I like the concept. Creative thinking.
aljaish, May 14 2003

       [Submitted via e-mail to bakesperson@halfbakery.com, reference <002001c4d46d$70a6c d40$0200a8c0 @ fampc1> ]   

       "I think we humans should start from scratch to interact with dolphins. First, we can have a baby listen to the dolphin conversation while in the mother's womb. Once given birth immediately switched to fluid breathing and have dolphins live right next to the baby though a partition, so the baby can survive in a controlled fluid environment separate from the dolphins. I think we humans can generate ultra sound though the crack of skull only if trained in the early stage of birth which will enable to generate ultra sound frequency similar to dolphins. Once the baby acquires such language skill then can be switched to ordinary human education system so the baby can explain to other humans his or her experience. Just an inspiration."
jutta, Nov 27 2004

       Oh my.   

       so long, and thanks for all the fish, anyone?
theircompetitor, Nov 28 2004

       My attempts to interact with the Southern California dolpin tribes have only shown that they rapidly get bored with my company.   

       Either I'm even more tedious than I thought, or there are attention span and other issues in the way of communication.
normzone, Nov 28 2004

       A program called "What we still don't know" on TV recently looked at what aliens might be like and surmised they would probably be more like humans than we dare think. The argument was based on studies of parallel evolution where similar features have evolved separately in different species. Scientists at present believe the eye has evolved identically (if I remember correctly) seven times. If this is true, then if dolphins do have a language as we understand, with grammer and syntax, then it possibly utilises the same brain delevopements (or 'nodes') as ours.
Belfry, Dec 16 2004

       sp. grammar.   

       The eye seems to have evolved independently quite a few times. Not usually identically, though. Insects have compound eyes, squids have no blind spot and one insect (at least I think it was an insect) has evolved a lensless compound eye with a square cross section. I wish I could remember the insect.
st3f, Dec 16 2004

       Insect or crustacean [st3f]?

       There seems to be a generally accepted assumption here that dolphins do actually possess language. I find that very hard to believe. If they did, it shouldn't be too hard to think up an experiment which would demonstrate this, such as one where two dolphins had to pass information between them to achieve a goal. If anyone knows of any such experiments that have been reported in a reputable scientific journal (rather than in the National Enquirer), I would be fascinated and astonished to hear about it. The reports of chimps and gorillas developing sign language have been thorougly debunked, I believe - the extent of their sign language is more like "bananas! bananas! eat! bananas!" than "give me a banana - they're in the bowl over there".
spacemoggy, Dec 19 2004

       Are we really asking for more than a first order sort of meaning? There are plenty of people who communicate (everybody, some of the time, I'd think) along the lines of "Fish. Eat. Good. More!" It's a little harsh to say that that's not language at all.
tiromancer, Dec 19 2004

       //"Fish. Eat. Good. More!" //
Well obviously you know your own friends best, but I would suggest that very few people outside tarzan movies speak like that. A person would be more likely to say something along the lines of "Ooh, fish. Think I'll have some of that. That's good. I'll have some more." Of those four sentences, I would say only the first is the sort of thing that animals, including dolphins, are capable of. The others all involve grammar, specifically the construction subject-verb-object, and convey quite complex ideas. Can dolphins say "ooh, fish"? Probably. Can they say "yummy!"? I expect so. But "that's good" meaning "the object we were recently referring to is good", is probably beyond their capability. Although I'm ready to be amazed if anyone can produce evidence to the contrary.
spacemoggy, Dec 20 2004

       I think that you should be wary of assuming that language is entirely spoken, spacemoggy. Body language is as big a part of the equation as words, as anyone who has been on holiday to a non-English speaking country could tell you.
DrBob, Dec 20 2004

       click click bollocks click whistle click
etherman, Dec 20 2004

       //body language//
Well fair enough, body language does form a large part of communication. Plenty of animals display body language, but it communicates feelings rather than thoughts. I think what's being suggested for dolphins is more sophisticated than body language.
spacemoggy, Dec 20 2004

       This is quite possibly a good idea.   

       A few adjustments would need to be made, of course- the small child would have to be fitted with hearing gear to allow it to perceive the full frequency range, and the child would have to be <i>in</i> the water, and be trained as an interpreter from birth. The dolphin-vocoder is a pretty good idea- I'd recommend a septambic keyer plus voice recognition for the UI.   

       After all, if chimps can be taught English, humans can certainly be taught Dolphin.   

       Oh, and responding to [aljaish]'s comment: The human brain is a lot more versatile than you give it credit for. There is a conlang out there (can't recall the name) with <i>no verbs</i>. If the human brain can understand languages which don't contain these basic tenets, is it not possible that it could comprehend languages even less like existing human languages?
Hive_Mind, Apr 17 2010

       <ramble> learning dolphin would give a real-world example of pre-mathematical language </ramble>
FlyingToaster, Apr 17 2010

       How do you know dolphins are pre-mathematical? Perhaps, like idiot-savants, they get their kicks by whistling ever- larger prime numbers at eachother.
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 30 2010


back: main index

business  computer  culture  fashion  food  halfbakery  home  other  product  public  science  sport  vehicle