Monkey semantics: two ‘dialects’ of Campbell’s monkey alarm calls

Linguistics and Philosophy 37 (6):439-501 (2014)
  Copy   BIBTEX


We develop a formal semantic analysis of the alarm calls used by Campbell’s monkeys in the Tai forest and on Tiwai island —two sites that differ in the main predators that the monkeys are exposed to. Building on data discussed in Ouattara et al. :e7808, 2009a; PNAS 106: 22026–22031, 2009b and Arnold et al., we argue that on both sites alarm calls include the roots krak and hok, which can optionally be affixed with -oo, a kind of attenuating suffix; in addition, sentences can start with boom boom, which indicates that the context is not one of predation. In line with Arnold et al., we show that the meaning of the roots is not quite the same in Tai and on Tiwai: krak often functions as a leopard alarm call in Tai, but as a general alarm call on Tiwai. We develop models based on a compositional semantics in which concatenation is interpreted as conjunction, roots have lexical meanings, -oo is an attenuating suffix, and an all-purpose alarm parameter is raised with each individual call. The first model accounts for the difference between Tai and Tiwai by way of different lexical entries for krak. The second model gives the same underspecified entry to krak in both locations, but it makes use of a competition mechanism akin to scalar implicatures. In Tai, strengthening yields a meaning equivalent to non-aerial dangerous predator and turns out to single out leopards. On Tiwai, strengthening yields a nearly contradictory meaning due to the absence of ground predators, and only the unstrengthened meaning is used



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,503

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Aspects of human language: Where motherese?Emmanuel Gilissen - 2004 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (4):514-514.
Primate Language and the Playback Experiment, in 1890 and 1980.Gregory Radick - 2005 - Journal of the History of Biology 38 (3):461-493.
Animal communication and neo-expressivism.Andrew McAninch, Grant Goodrich & Colin Allen - 2009 - In Robert W. Lurz (ed.), The Philosophy of Animal Minds. Cambridge University Press. pp. 128--144.
Papez dreams: Mechanism and phenomenology of dreaming.E. E. Krieckhaus - 2000 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 23 (6):961-962.
False alarm-a reply-discussion.Kn Kirby - 1994 - Cognition 52 (3):245-250.
Sufficient for alarm.H. Kolansky & W. Moore - 1978 - In John Paul Brady & H. Keith H. Brodie (eds.), Controversy in Psychiatry. Saunders.
False alarm: a reply to Over and Evans.Kris N. Kirby - 1994 - Cognition 52 (3):245-250.
Commentary: Information, Not Unnecessary Alarm.Norman Kahn & Ethel S. Siris - 1985 - IRB: Ethics & Human Research 7 (3):9.


Added to PP

47 (#251,724)

6 months
3 (#228,256)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?