Doctor Dolittle's Delusion: Animals and the Uniqueness of Human Language / Edition 1

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Dr. Dolittle had it wrong, says the author of this fascinating book: animals cannot use language. Stephen Anderson explains the difference between communication and language and shows that animals do not have the cognitive capacities necessary to acquire language.

"A masterly overview of what is currently known about the communicative abilities of a wide range of creatures. . . . Anderson's synthesis provides illuminating comparisons with the infinitely more sophisticated resources of the human language. . . . An elegant book."—Neil Smith, Nature

"Well-written, well-argued, and provocative. . . . I enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone interested in animal communication and the evolution of language."—Marc Bekoff, Quarterly Review of Biology

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Anderson (linguistics & cognitive science, Yale Univ.) presents a thorough analysis of the significant animal-language experiments done over the last 100 years. By distinguishing simple communication from syntactical language, he makes a strong case that animals do not possess any language. He provides detailed studies of bee dancing, frog croaking, bird singing, and primate signing and concludes that although some animals can communicate in fairly complex ways, these calls are not language. Anderson does not purport to have an agenda or bias other than to present some concrete findings: his book does not conclude that a lack of language in animals justifies human exploitation. Well researched and highly organized, this book is chiefly aimed at an academic audience. For popular reading, acquire Eugene Linden's The Parrot's Lament and Stephen Budiansky's If a Lion Could Talk. Highly recommended for academic libraries.-John M. Kistler, Houston, PA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"A terrific read, informative, judicious, and timely."—Norbert Hornstein, University of Maryland

"In this enjoyable and informative book, Stephen Anderson incisively states the way that diverse areas of study have helped illuminate the question of communication by animals and our communication with them."—Diane Brentari, Purdue University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300115253
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 5/30/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen R. Anderson is professor of linguistics, psychology, and cognitive science at Yale University.

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Table of Contents

1 Animals, language, and linguistics 1
2 Language and communication 15
3 On studying cognition 38
4 The dance "language" of honeybees 63
5 Sound in frog and man 90
6 Birds and babies learning to speak 128
7 What primates have to say for themselves 166
8 Syntax 197
9 Language is not just speech 231
10 Language instruction in the laboratory 263
11 Language, biology, and evolution 305
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