World's oldest words

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by S.A.M., Mar 6, 2009.

  1. draqon Banned Banned

    what if...Antarctica has some hidden civilization deep underneath its ice...imagine us decoding those texts

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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    That's a difficult question to answer for two reasons.

    REASON 1. How do you define a language? Every language changes over time, so at what point do you say it's a new language and not the original one? For example, there has been a 3,000-year continuum in the evolution of Greek. There was never a decade or a century in which the younger people said, "We can't understand the language of the older people." Yet the people who live in Greece today can't understand the language of Plato. (Perhaps that's a bad example. I recently learned from a Greek lady that all university courses in Greece are taught in Ancient Greek, so anyone with a university degree actually can read Plato in the original. What a country!) The same is true of the continuity from Classical Latin through Vulgar Latin to Medieval Italian to Modern Italian. The same is true of the continuity from Sanskrit to Hindi or any of the Indic languages. From Old Slavonic to Russian, Czech or Serbian.

    We have the same problem with geographical separation that we do with temporal separation. People who speak Dutch and people who speak German can't understand each other. Yet there is a rich spectrum of dialects of both languages, and where they meet, the speakers of Dutch-like German can understand the speakers of German-like Dutch pretty easily.

    REASON 2. We only have detailed records of languages since the technology of writing was invented, and only in places where it was used. It's a common phenomenon that languages with small communities of speakers change more slowly than those with a more cosmopolitan community; this makes sense because the fewer the people, the fewer the influences for change. But the languages with the smallest number of speakers are the ones that have never been written down, or at least not until modern times. So we have difficulty knowing how much they've changed over the centuries.

    Of course using anthropology and comparative linguistics as forensic tools, we can identify related languages and the migration routes of their people, and make very good guesses as to how long ago the common ancestor existed from which they both diverged, but it's hard to say anything about the speed of that divergence.

    If there's a language whose speakers three thousand years ago could understand their modern descendants, it's a good bet that it's the language of a small tribe that's still living in the Stone Age, in the Amazon, New Guinea, Australia, or the African outback. But that's a "good bet," not a "sure thing."

    If I had to come up with an answer to the question in the O.P. in the spirit of good scientific fun, I'd suggest Icelandic. Comparative linguistics says it's still very similar to the Old Norse that was the ancestor of all the Scandinavian languages, and it's not inconceivable that a modern Icelander could converse with an ancient Norseman. This would make it somewhere between 1500 and 2000 years old.

    But someone who voted for an Australian or Amazonian language is probably more correct, he just has no way of proving it.

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    They go back much further than that, so this guy's scholarship is questionable. "Shit" occurs in all the Germanic languages: Scheiß in German, skid in Danish. This means it's at least 2500 years old, going back to the split among the Northern, Eastern and Western Germanic groups of languages. "Fart" and "arse" occur in German as Fürz and Arse, so they go back at least to the 5th century CE when the Angles, Saxons and Jutes sailed to Britannia and brought Old German with them. They may also exist in the Scandinavian languages and be much older; I'm not an expert in profanity.
    Civilization, literally "the building of cities," is a technology. Like all technologies it is a virtual commodity consisting almost entirely of knowledge, so it spreads rapidly. The practices and artifacts of cities radiate outward from them at a fairly rapid clip. For example, there was a Bronze Age in northwestern Europe, even extending across the Channel into the British Isles, several centuries before the Romans built cities in those places, and in fact it appears to have sprung up before Roman civilization itself, having spread out from Greece and the Etruscans or perhaps just from trade with the Phoenicians.

    It is inconceivable that a civilization could have existed and vanished without leaving traces of its influence among the people for hundreds of miles in every direction. Even if its demise led to the eventual reversion of the satellite cultures to a purely Neolithic lifestyle, its broken and discarded durable artifacts would be scattered through every archeological dig within a broad radius.

    The Navajo take great pride in eschewing the White Man's ways and living by their traditions, and they keep a good buffer between their settlements and the nearest American towns in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. But take a drive through the Navajo nation, on its paved roads. Watch the truck traffic and count the TV antennas.

    Throughout history many Neolithic peoples have joyfully embraced the promise of civilization, even if that promise turned out to be an illusion. The archeological sites of their ancient villages are giant trash dumps of artifacts bartered from the city or built with technology copied from the city.

    If there is a lost civilization on Antarctica, there will be traces of its remains in Tierra del Fuego, New Zealand, the tip of Africa, etc.
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  5. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    Thanks Billy, I enjoyed your post

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    While I agree with you definition here, I don't think many people will call those sounds or gestures words.

    It also introduces a new problem. How do you define 'understanding' ?
    Some insects use sounds that would fit this definition, yet I'm not sure they understand these sounds. They most likely just respond instinctively.

    So, to keep things simple, lets limit ourselves to humans

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    For instance, there is little doubt in my mind that the most primitive humans had a sound to make it understood that they are in pain; likely something like "AAH!".
    This sounds would be well understood by every member of the group. But.. would it be a word ?
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2009
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  7. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Yes, a very tough, probably impossible to define idea.

    Note I said "behaves as if he understood." - That is about as close as you come, I think, but highly flawed attempt to define the idea we usually mean.

    No, even though they exchange signals and then appropriate behavior follows, insects are not "understanding each other" for the reason you state -Their's is instinctive behavior. "Words" must have some significant arbitrary connection to their meaning for me to call their exchange producing appropriate behavior to be called "understanding" but it is impossible to know if there is any real understanding taking place based on behavior. For example:

    A few days ago, I was sitting on a bench and then went to get a ball that had come over a fence. I said to the bench: "I will be right back, don't go anywhere." That bench understood me perfectly, based on its behavior, but you seem dim witted as no matter how many times I tell you: "Knock on my door, I will invite you in for a drink." and you never knock.

    PS Some birds have instinctive "songs" and others must learn their song, usually by hearing it during a relatively short fraction of their youth. Possibly if they learned two different ones and had different behaviors re-enforce for each, they could be said to "understand." In sunshine's case he has obviously learned my English phrases with the intonations and sometimes jesters that often come with them. He came to me very young (did not yet have any long feathers and in my ignorance, acting as "mother bird," I tried to teach him how to fly by releasing him a meter of so above the floor. He flapped his wings and fell straight down.)

    I don't know if Calopsitas learn their songs or not. He did not sing much for the first year. Now, about 1.5 years old, when we awaken, he is singing a rich set of "songs" (chirps of one type in a pattern for up to a minute then switches to others.)* As soon as he hears me clear my throat, blow my nose, etc. that all stops and he immediately and insistently, until I appear, makes his loudest and sharpest chirps which clearly mean: "Dam it, come let me out of this cage, NOW." After I do, that chip is not used again until the next AM, even if he has been returned to the cage during the day, but then a softer version of the same chirps greets me when I return from walk or shopping, etc. as if to more nicely ask me to release him from cage soon.
    *More like he is bored and talking to himself than singing. (He has a very rich / stimulation cage environment with many things he likes to play with. Especially small metal objects like sets of linked paper clips hooked to cage wall, which he will unhook and take apart. He has a small mirror on one wall, but ignores that image of himself. He unties some short pieces of old shoe strings tied to the walls in several places in a couple of weeks etc. also.)
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 7, 2009
  8. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    Ah yes, I missed that nuance.
    I have often wondered how much of our own 'understanding' is in fact instinctive.. I imagine it's a lot.

    To be honest, I don't think it's that simple.
    Insects responds in exactly the same way as we do to stimuli, the only difference is that we are (sometimes) aware of it. I'm not ready to define 'understanding' in such a way that it requires self-awareness.. or maybe I should..

    I'm not sure if it's appropriate to find those last two sentences funny, but I can't help myself

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    It seems like he learned that, if he sings in the morning, you'll appear soon to release him. Of course, he doesn't understand (or maybe he does, depending on the definition of 'understanding'

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    ) that his singing just wakes you up and that you appearing soon to release him is not a direct result of his singing, but rather a direct result from you waking up

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  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    You're confusing the anglophones here. I haven't been able to figure out why the Brazilians refer to Nymphicus hollandicus as calopsitas in Portuguese, but in English they're called "cockatiels," a Dutch word meaning "tiny cockatoos," which is what they are taxonomically. They are parrots or psittacines, members of the order Psittaciformes, which in addition to several other species of cockatoo also includes Amazons, parakeets, lories, African greys, macaws, lorikeets, budgies, Eclectus, conures, kakapos, and all birds with hooked bills and zygodactyl toes (two pointing forward, two pointing backward). Like many cockatoos, the cockatiel is native to Australia and is one of the most beloved domesticated birds, second in worldwide popularity only to budgerigars or "budgies" (which we Americans stupidly and confusingly refer to as "parakeets," although parakeets are easily identified by their long tails).

    As a class of vertebrates, the parrot order is renowned for intelligence. Many species that have been studied in the wild, zoos, the laboratory or domestication have been found to rival the primates and cetaceans in their communication, planning and problem-solving abilities. The grasping and manipulative ability of their hooked beak and their four "opposable thumbs" gives them a way to manifest that intelligence in their interaction with the physical world. Parrots are famous for dismantling their cages from the inside (our macaw figured out left-hand threaded bolts in less than two days), playing intricate games, getting inside complicated devices, and outsmarting their owners by spotting the weak points in their daily routine.

    To get back to the topic of communication, parrots are well-known mimics and copy the spoken sounds of humans as easily as the sounds made by our dogs and other pets, the wild birds outside, and the ambient noises of traffic, machinery and squeaky doors. I always tell women whose husbands are too lazy to fix things around the house to get a parrot: within a couple of weeks he will be mimicking the sounds of all the squeaky doors and drawers, only MUCH LOUDER. The first sound our first parrot learned to mimic was our dog barking, followed immediately by "QUIET!" After we learned to stop doing that, the first sound our second parrot learned to mimic was laughter. I guess that says something nice about our family life.

    (Then there was the day my wife and I swapped cars because she wanted to take her best friend to lunch in the V-8 sportscar. I got home first and when she drove up in my car, the parrot heard the distinctive engine sound and shouted, in her voice, "Oh boy, Fraggle's home!" That was sweet.)

    My tenants' cockatiel is upstairs making the sounds of all the songbirds she hears in the yard, and the songbirds are congregated around the window answering her.

    But some parrots have been able to learn that the sounds we make are more intricate than birdcalls, barking and rusty hinges. Alex the famous African Grey was able to understand simple questions and give simple answers. When asked to identify an object, he could say "A red square key." Unfortunately Alex died young at 35 (the larger parrot species should have the same life expectancy in captivity as humans, and many have lived past 100), but they have other birds in the program ready to take over the limelight.

    Frankly, researchers have made more progress in language with primates. Koko the gorilla and Washoe the chimpanzee learned to understand speech and "speak" in American Sign Language, with a vocabulary of around 1000 words. When Koko saw a zebra for the first time, he said, "Look, a white tiger." Washoe taught ASL to her baby and they talked to each other. But few people understand ASL so the impact of this program is lost on us. Parrots speak English and that astounds us, even if their vocabulary is more limited.
    You've hit on the definition of "language." Understanding and responding to sounds instinctively is not language. Language is invented and learned. No one can understand a language without learning it. It may be by the immersion method used by babies (and some classrooms), by the programmed lessons used in most classrooms, or by the analysis and trial and error anthropologists use when discovering a new people. Of course every language includes a few baby words like "mama" and a few onomatopoetic words like "bang," but those are rare and not very helpful.

    Lately we've learned that cetaceans make sounds that are not instinctive. Each pod has its own modest vocabulary of calls or songs (whose meanings so far elude us completely) and in some species each individual has his own name.
  10. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    I am quite willing to accept that humans are just very complex biological machines; however I think the way we respond to many stimuli is fundamentally different from insects, in that it is leaned, not pre-set the same way for all of our species. Humans are not unique in this learning how to respond.

    I had friend who had trained his dog to respond to verbal commands (perhaps with jesters also, I forget) but to "bark" he would roll over, to "sit" he would rise on hind legs and beg. Etc. My friend had a funny routine of about 15 minutes he could display with this dog. But of course, even the dog that sits, in response to command "sit." is exhibiting a learned response, not any instinct.

    Skinner's pigeons also learned a wide variety of responses, learned by simple rewards for some spontanesous behavior they initially made. Probably it is possible to teach some insects a leaned response, with enough "behavioral conditioning” even to what appears to be a only a verbal command but has suitable minor jesters. (If you do not know of "Clever Hans," the horse that could do simple math, often answer correctly yes/no questions, etc. you might want to search that name plus "horse." He was even investigated by a committee from Harvard, before what was happening was understood. Clever Hans was indeed clever and very perceptive - he noted very subtitle changes in the face and body of his owner that the owner unknowingly made.)
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  11. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    Haven't heard of verbal conditioning. But insects are frequently conditioned by mild electrical impulses in studies on memory.
  12. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Thanks Fraggle for post 26. I knew, but had forgotten "cockatiel" was the English name for my bird's type. So I went and looked at the expensive* (about 6 USD/ lb.) mixed seed bag that does tell its contents in English also, but I read the Portuguese by mistake, as I was mainly trying to remember how to spell it correctly, while I returned to my computer to enter it.
    (It is interesting that often, even one like me who is only slightly bi-lingual, just gets the desired information from a text and is not very aware what language it is in.)

    While on the subject of his food, Sunshine loves to chew on edge of a block of cheese thru plastic bag. Most of the pieces he gets off fall inside the bag, but my wife started to give him small pieces. (I think he is a little confused as to what type of creature he is as he likes to eat off my plate, some of my foods yet will not eat them if placed in his cage.) I told wife not to feed him cheese on the theory that it must contain lactose and it is highly unlikely that Mother Nature has provided him with the enzyme to digest that. I.e. like some humans, who lack that enzyme, he is probably "lactose intolerant."

    Cheese would be another protein source for him. Currently he eats on corner of stainless steel sink (for his breakfast, while we eat ours at kitchen table.) little pieces of lightly cooked red meat. (He does not like hamburger, unless the fat content is very low. That is hard for me to tell in store, so I buy very lean meat and cut into tiny pieces. Perhaps I will soon just give it as one cube of volume ~8mm. I have started to give it raw as that is the way it would be in nature, but until recently it has been lightly cooked.)

    We both thank you again for prior PM telling that his high rate of feather loss was due to protein deficiency. He is now helping with his beak some small feathers (~5 per day) fall out as it is very hot here in Brazil now.

    I am glad you agree that sunshine and I have real communication, some of which is mainly verbal. Sunshine does not yet mimic my English, even though he has heard “hello” and “hello Sunshine” at least 400 times now. He has forced me to learn his “words” instead.

    Would you call these different distinct chirps “words” ? I do.

    Any comments, especially on the cheese food? (By PM if you think that best)
    *Normally I make mix from cheaper bulk seeds. He loves sunflower seeds, but I limit them (~10% of diet) as read somewhere that too much oil is bad for him.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 7, 2009
  13. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    Hmm ok. So are you saying that, in order for a sound to be defined as a word, the meaning of the sound has to be learned rather than known instinctively ?
  14. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    But insects learn as well. In fact, it could be said that some insect species have a language. Take the Honey Bee, for example.
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    You're being modest. You are extremely bilingual if you don't consciously notice the language in which information is presented. Do people in your dreams speak in both English and Portuguese? That's undeniable proof that you think in both languages, even unconsciously. That's a pretty serviceable definition of "bilingual."
    This is getting more than a little off topic, but... When we breed birds for human companionship we use a technique called imprinting. When the babies' eyes open (1-3 weeks depending on the species) we step in and take over the role of parenting: handling them, feeding them with a syringe every couple of hours (round the clock, it's not an easy job), keeping them warm in a "brooder," etc. Birds are programmed to identify with the creatures who raise them ("imprinting"), so they grow up thinking they're humans. Having dogs and other pets around helps them accept them as members of the multi-species "flock." (Although we have to be careful because even "keen-eyed" dogs have horrible eyesight and might kill a baby bird when he takes his first flight, not recognizing "little Sammy" and thinking it's a toy somebody tossed.) If the parent birds are imprinted themselves, they don't mind this at all because they trust us and they're happy to offload the demanding work.

    An imprinted bird will continue to learn the behaviors of his flock-mates, so it's no surprise that he wants to eat like you do.
    Each species of parrot has slightly different vocal organs and therefore has a natural ability to produce a slightly different set of sounds. Cockatiels are not noted for their ability to mimic speech, so you're going to have to be grateful for whatever you get. As I'm sure you've noticed, they're really good with wild bird calls, whistles, and other high-pitched sounds. The African grey is the species (perhaps two species) that is most skilled at not only reproducing speech but understanding what it means. Amazons (there are many species of those) are also good enough at it to be entertaining, but not in the same class with Greys. Amazons mimic the sound of singing, which can be very pleasant to have around. The words are muddled but they have an extremely precise sense of pitch and you can usually make out the melody. Many macaws can utter a few barely understandable words. Budgies, despite their small size and tiny speech organs, are famous for their vocabulary; one can say more than a hundred words and there's intriguing evidence that he may know what they mean, like the African Grey.
    My position is that sounds qualify as "language" if A. they are learned rather than instinctive and B. the creature making them has learned their meaning.
    Our birds nibble on cheese but we've never made it a major component of their diet, so I can't help you. But even among humans, the process of converting milk into cheese changes its chemistry. I'm sufficiently lactose-intolerant that I avoid drinking milk, but I happily eat cheese every day.
    Birds get atherosclerosis just like mammals. But just like humans, if you make sure he isn't eating any more calories than he needs to fuel his daily activities, he'll burn the fat off before it has a chance to form plaque.

    Back on topic...

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    I do not have a degree in linguistics and I very rarely have contact with people who do, so I'm not an authority on all of the paradigms and definitions that are used academically.

    But consider this. In 21st-century academia, language is defined as a technology: one of the oldest. It's inconceivable that many of the key accomplishments of the Paleolithic Era, which required detailed planning and the relayed communication of sophisticated ideas, would have been possible without language. It's hypothesized that language is what made it possible for the explorers of the San tribe to walk out of Africa and survive in Asia 50KYA, during an ice age when food was scarce.

    By definition, a technology is first invented by a person or a community, then it is taught to and learned by others, and passed down through the generations. It stands in contrast to an instinct, a skill or other motif that we're born with.
    I have never seen an assertion that the bees' "navigational dance" for directing each other to pollen is anything other than instinctive.
  16. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    Hmm I find this topic particularly fuzzy.
    No matter how you put it, in the end both insect behavior and mammal behavior are caused by a bunch of firing neurons. Defining 'understanding' and distinguishing species based on that definition, in this light, seems impossible.
    Can I assume that you are familiar with Blue Tit technology ?

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    I also stand by my assertion that insects show learned behavior.

    But fact is that they use this 'instinctive language' (if you will) pretty successfully. One bee discovers a food source, goes back to the hive, and dances the dance while the other bees observe (and understand).
    See this is exactly why I asked

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  17. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Not only do bees understand the information of the dance, or behave as if they do, so do humans. They can plan collective actions with it also. That is how mankind first accepted that the dance was rich in specific information:

    There was a German who studied bees for many years and correctly understood the dance. I.e. Orientation wrt sun transformed into angle wrt gravity, etc. but hardly anyone believed him. One day he was observing a hive about to swarm. The various scout bees came back and "argued in dance" for the best place to go.

    It became obvious to that German what the selection would be - a no longer used railroad building, that happened to be the only possible new hive* near the location the bees were coming to accept. He went there and announce to all he could that a swarm of bees would be coming soon. It did and after that his decoding of the dance was believed.

    *I raised bees for a couple of years. I had a swam and spare hive body ready for it. I put the swam in the hive and even had stolen some honey comb from the original hive, but they soon left. Later I learned by reading, that a swarm of bees MUST fly to some new location. Mother Nature has built this into their genes as it helps that gene line to survive forest fires. I think everything bees do is instinctual. No "words" exchanged as I define words, but a lot of communication takes place.

    They have a very complex social structure, with assigned jobs, that seem to change as they grow older, but it all seems to under genetic control. Much of their communication is chemical. They are constantly exchanging chemicals. -They tell foreigners trying to steal honey that way. If the queen is removed from hive, or killed, nothing happens for a few hours and then all hell breaks loose. Panic and some larva are moved to larger chambers etc. to raise a new queen. Except for a few drones, bees are underdeveloped females, but not too late stage larva, with proper feeding and chamber size can become a queen.) Apparently, only the queen supplies one of these chemical communication signals.

    Bees are best thought of as cells of a larger organism, the hive, not individual creatures. They work together for the good of the whole, exchanging chemical control signals and some behavioral messages, just as the cells of your body do.
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  18. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Reply to Fraggle’s post 32:

    I am bi-lingual in reading only. I read newspapers and magazines in Portuguese with ease every day. I can even skim them as I would English text. I speak easily*, but with terrible miss use of verbs – too many tenses for me and have a very strong American accent – so strong some cannot understand me. I am almost totally illiterate when it comes to writing in Portuguese.

    People in my dreams rarely do any talking. My dreams are mainly non verbal relations, and actions with amazing technical and physics details**. Except for impossible time shifts and mixes of people I have known in different countries who never were together, my dreams rarely violate physical laws. In addition to my slight dyslexia, I also have slight prosopagnosia so people in my dreams are more representations of roles than actual people I have had relationships with. For example, I have had two wives and a wife is not rare in my dreams, but usually it is not clear which it is, unless the dream is about something that is country specific. “University professor,” class rooms, exams,*** etc are also not rare in my dreams. Color is rare, unless it is important. (Fires are always reddish, not blue, etc.)
    *Portuguese words just come out of my mouth and I have no idea how or what they will be until I hear them. Sometimes, I will notice I have just used 3d person instead of 1st person and immediately correct myself. I never formally studied Portuguese, but just learned it like a child does, except most of my vocabulary comes from reading. Many years ago I studied both German and Russian, but then when I spoke it was translation from the English. My Portuguese speech never is. Sometimes at start of conversation English comes out my mouth first but I quickly recognize, apologize, and switch.

    ** Even in my dreams, I like to understand how things work.

    ***I was under "university stress" for five years as I was in very select group and had to maintain 85 average or lose my scholarship. For a few details see: and post 9 plus some others by DH et. al. all about a rigorius program at Cornell. That period marked my dreams for life, but it was a great experience and happy days also, especially in hidesight

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    Yes, I think Sunshine has imprinted on me as his "mother." When we have company, if he is still free (outside of cage) he will typically come to me to feel secure. Wife reports that when I am away, he will often sit on back of the chair in front of this computer and wait for my return.

    Our apartment is on the 14th floor so there are not many birds outside the window, but he does occasionally see one fly by and may call to it. Looking down for 14th floor seems to be fun for him. The window ledges are his favorite perches - I think there is an instinctive liking of heights. He likes to sit on top of the refrigerators, top of picture frames etc.

    Some seeds in the expensive mix he does not like much, so they tend to accumulate. At least once per week I leave Sunshine a little hungry so that he eats them too. I do not think he is over feed and he needs a lot of energy as probably flies 60 or 70 yards each day. It is obviously great fun as he will make big loops thru several rooms and then return to the window ledge near his cage.

    Thanks for the cheese infromation.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 7, 2009
  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I'm not denying the utility of the bees' means of communication, and I'll leave it to the philosophers and sociologists to argue over the definition of the word "language." But this is a linguistics forum, and this discussion in particular is about the history of words. The implicit assumption in this particular universe of discourse is, therefore, that whatever we're all defining by mutual consent as "language" is dynamic and changes noticeably in the timespan of a few thousand years.

    This rules out the communication system of bees, which is hard-wired instead of learned and therefore can only change on a genetic timescale.

    We've gotten off topic with aviculture and other sidelines, but let's not completely lose track of the original question, which was about the impermanence of words. The "words" of bee "language" change at glacial speed.
    In my observation, when people learn a foreign language the skill they acquire most quickly is reading (in a language with a phonetic writing system), followed by speech comprehension, followed by speaking, with writing coming in dead last. You seem to fit that pattern perfectly so: Congratulations, you're normal.

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    Jungians say that every person in your dreams is you. There are 23 dimensions to your spirit in the Jungian model (he didn't invent that, it's the number of distinct gods in ancient pantheons, the number of personalities in Shakespeare's plays and soap operas, etc.), so a dream can be your window into seeing how they interact with each other. Does your King resent your Healer because you spend more time caring for people than leading them? Real people do show up, but they have to be deeply embedded in your life, like your parents. A wife might qualify if you had been married for many, many years, especially if you married at a very young age. Otherwise a seemingly familiar figure could just be your "anima" (a man's feminine side) making an appearance using an avatar cobbled together from images floating around in your neurons.
    I've been told that the section of the visual cortex that processes color is not very well connected to the parts of our brain that are available to our unconscious when dreams are processed. Therefore colors are rare in most people's dreams. Many things we take for granted in waking life fall into that limbo, such as writing.
    That doesn't mean that you're not bilingual. Bilingual means that you think in each language separately, rather than translating everything into or out of your native language. It's quite possible to have internalized a language so that you can form thoughts in its words and syntax, without having the command of a fully-schooled adult.

    The reason I frequently stress this in my posts is that when you think in a foreign language you are thinking from a foreign perspective. The structure of the language shapes the direction of your thoughts and attitudes. Being bilingual gives you an enormous advantage over a monolingual person, because you have a built-in system for reviewing and challenging your own ideas.
    That's the best way to become bilingual in the sense that I'm using the word. Even though you may have a small vocabulary and stumble over the nuances of the subjunctive mode, you are seeing the world the way a Brazilian sees it, which is not the way we see it nos Estados Unidos.
    In most parrot species both parents share childrearing duties. The courtship ritual in most species involves offering regurgitated food, because that demonstrates what a good parent he or she would be. They often do this as a manifestation of their bond with their human.

    We normally don't tell new parrot lovers about this because it will be such a charming surprise and we don't want to spoil it.

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    You need to do everything you can to get him bonded to both of you. A bird that only loves one human can be a big problem, just when you're having a family emergency and a bird problem is the last thing you need.
  20. visceral_instinct Monkey see, monkey denigrate Valued Senior Member

    YUCK. I'm never getting a pet parrot.

    How come you know so much about animals?
  21. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    If willing to clean up one or two droppings on the floor every day, keep clear plastic on cloth chairs, under windows and under fold down doors of cage, then get a cockatiel.

    Mine has never regurgitated food for me. I think there is some “sexual biting” going on at times. He likes me to pet his head; placing it down near his chest is a request for me to do so. After a few seconds of petting, he will briefly lift his head, gently and very rapidly bite my finger 4 to 6 times and then put his head back down. For some weeks I thought I was not petting exactly how he wanted me to, but now am convinced that how I am petting is not the cause of this display. - I think it is some, perhaps perverse, sexual overture / response. If I try to continue a stroke down the upper part of his back or even touch his wings, his bites are entirely different and with the hiss that tells me "NO - stop that."

    It is just my personnel POV, but I do not think a bird should be confined to a cage. - Nature intended them to fly. That is why I made the "Get a cockatiel." conditional on being willing to adapt with some plastic covers, windows always nearly closed except at nights, etc.

    PS to Fraggle: Sunshine does love my wife too. He goes to sit on her shoulders, often even when I am home if I have been disciplining him (He is not allowed to sit on any table etc. or location without plastic or newspaper cover except tops of picture frames and window ledge. - He knows very well the "house rules" and frequently violates them to get my attention. Part of her attraction is she eats peanuts and cheese snacks between her light meals but I only eat at meals. She needs only to go to the closet where the peanut bag is stored, and he is flying to her shoulder before she has even opened the door, but he imprinted on me as I am fully retired and she still gives classes and advises Ph.D. students so is not home as much as I am. Don't worry. - Wife knows that he will eat peanuts until his stomach ruptures - thanks to you, so he never gets more than one (or a second, hours later).

    He does have mixed feeling about her as he is clearly jealous of her when she is affectionate with me. I am only "his." – “She is to keep hands off.” is Sunshine's POV.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 8, 2009
  22. visceral_instinct Monkey see, monkey denigrate Valued Senior Member

    Nah, pet birds not my scene. I'm more of a 'big huge Alsatian dog' kind of girl.

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  23. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    Nice info

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    I'm not sure how much I agree with your last paragraph, but lets not piss off Fraggle any further (just joking Frag

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    Fair enough Fraggle. But I started this because, in my opinion, it's vital to establish what constitutes a word in order to find out what the oldest word might have been

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