Other animals don’t have language like we do, but some of them might be getting awfully close.

A recent experiment claims that some birds use a form of syntax — that they combine their signals in a way that’s always been thought to be unique to humans. Are these bird brains on to something?

Linguist Daniel Midgley sets things in order on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Promo with Kylie Sturgess


Show notes

Microsoft’s New Twitter Bot Becomes Nazi Sympathizing Maniac Within 24 Hours
http://theantimedia.org/microsofts-new-twitter-bot-becomes-nazi-sympathizing-maniac-within-24-hours/

Microsoft: Tay
https://www.tay.ai

Microsoft killed its first sentient AI
https://imgur.com/gallery/VhlAW

Artificially Intelligent Robot Tells Creator It Will Keep Humans “In a People Zoo”
http://theantimedia.org/artificially-intelligent-robot-tells-creator-it-will-keep-humans-in-a-people-zoo/

A new study will figure out if cats pick up the dialects of their owners
http://www.sciencealert.com/a-new-study-will-figure-out-if-cats-pick-up-the-dialects-of-their-owners

WATCH: Do you understand what your cat is saying?
http://www.lunduniversity.lu.se/article/watch-do-you-understand-what-your-cat-is-saying

Syntax is not unique to human language
http://phys.org/news/2016-03-syntax-unique-human-language.html

Bird Uses Linguistics Thought to Be Exclusively Human
http://www.i4u.com/2016/03/106816/bird-uses-linguistics-thought-be-exclusively-human

Ape ‘language ace’ gets tripped up by simple grammar
http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/03/ape-language-ace-gets-tripped-simple-grammar

Dendrophobia in Bonobo Comprehension of Spoken English (PDF)
http://evolang.org/neworleans/pdf/EVOLANG_11_paper_87.pdf

$380 million ship may be named Boaty McBoatface thanks to an online poll
http://www.smh.com.au/world/380-million-ship-may-be-named-boaty-mcboatface-thanks-to-an-online-poll-20160320-gnmtvx.html

Commuters salute guard after ‘Trainy McTrainface’ pulls into Waterloo
http://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/commuters-salute-guard-after-trainy-mctrainface-pulls-into-waterloo-a3209291.html

Mar 14th ’11: “I agree though. He’s definitely Sexy McSexFace. <3”
http://www.babygaga.com/t-1619410/you-watch-army-wives.html

Insulting nicknames involving “face”
http://ask.metafilter.com/166971/Gimme-some-nicknames-Dorks

Simpsons: Rome-old and Juli-eh — the origin of Esteban De La Sexface
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0918867/

From Cool McCool to Boaty McBoatface: An Investigationy McInvestigation
http://www.slate.com/blogs/lexicon_valley/2016/03/25/boaty_mcboatface_mcdreamy_tits_mcgee_and_the_internet_s_favorite_naming.html


Show tunes

Find the tracks we play on the RTRFM webpage for this episode.

Image credit: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/birds-use-syntax-humbling-humanity