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Friday, April 28, 2006

Singing Birds and Civilizations

This little bird can sing. Big deal! There is something more interesting than
this little bird singing. This bird sings and how? Grammatically. ! Ha! thats
the man bites dog part. Yeah this chick gets grammar.

One of my previous posts talked about a book titled Songlines and some
whales in the pacific singing. You wondered what the link was? Well, my
suspicion was kind of close.

Here is what Stewart Hulse has to say

it occurred to Hulse that music might be an ideal way to study how the brain arranges sights and sounds into an order, enabling people and animals to communicate and navigate their environments.

"Language is based on certain sounds and a grammar, which describes
the rules by which one thing comes after another. We all have a grammar
if we are going to speak, and so that's an example of the problem of serial order."
I thought about songbirds because they sing. Their song is not music, but
bird song has a grammar and a structure to it.
Here is an excellent study (if you are very mathematical just read the conclusion)
done by two Japanese from University of Tokyo.

Abstract. The mating song of the male Bengalese finch can be described
by a finite-state grammar and has the feature that more complex
songs are preferred by females [1]-[3].
From the standpoint of Chomsky’s theory, the most unique function of human
language is its “recursiveness”, which enables potentially infinite expressions
from finite elements [4]. This plays a fundamental role in grammar. Since “linguistic
behavior does not fossilize”, the questions of how mankind attained this
function and how language has been complicated in modern times are difficult
to deal with scientifically and they remain significant open questions.

I was fascinated at the female's ability to pick up
mispronounciation (or bad grammar). Check out the pic.

We focused on whether song grammars could evolve to become complex through
relatively brief, song-interjection communication. Consequently, we could clearly
demonstrate that song grammars could evolve to become complex as a result of
females’ interjection. This supports Okanoya’s hypothesis. In addition, it turned
out that the song grammars could not become arbitrarily complex, and instead
they evolved towards a boundary where interjection is successful, but not perfect.
After reading these two papers, my suspicion that lot of what we call 'abilities of humans'
are not unique at all. Some creatures evolve certain aspect into higher complexity.
Like dogs can smell million scents, we humans can form gazillion combinations of words
using a fundamental structure of grammar thats not unique to us at all. It is just a highly
evolved form of grammar.

This also throws light on theories that argue that human civilization can be traced back
much beyond. Unfortunately the Christian mind of 20th century had hard time trying
to accept any greatness before Christ.

I propose that for a language as complex and as beautiful as Sanskrit or Latin, to evolve
requires thousands of years. For a philisophical and thinking foundation that gives
rise to vedas, buddha and plato requires atleast thousands of years of thought evolution.
For a political and economic structures that supported Alexander, Pyramids and Asoka
needs great organizations, for an organization to evolve out or pure permutation and
combination requires atleast 10000-15000 years.

I propose ancient civilizations can be (should be) traced back to as back as 15000 BC.


Monkeyshot said...

Thus spake the true dork master, high priest of macintosh, keeper of the holy light of the green blinking CRT, saviour of the the original space invaders magnetic tape.

By the power of the 8 bit atari console....
You have the power...

:..M..: said...

Smiley, my dear. You need to get laid.

:-) said...

Dude, you scared me. I read it as moneyshot. (Now dont google it).
I am also working on another post titled 'Dolphin bubbles and Calculus'.

Yummy, wait, I am practicing my songlines.

Monkeyshot said...

Smiles, you can search for 'portmanteau' on the net :)

Nietzsche - God is dead
Dr Calculus - It stinks

Dolphinion -
I drink
therefore I swam

Dr Calculus -
A rose be not a rose
but a fractal equation in wavelength red

:-) said...

Loved your dolphinion :-)
I drink
therefore I swam