Title

Higher-order semantic structures in an African Grey parrot's vocalizations: Evidence from the Hyperspace Analog to Language (HAL) model

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-2013

Publication Title

Animal cognition

Department

Psychology

Abstract

Previous research has described the significant role that social interaction plays in both the acquisition and use of speech by parrots. The current study analyzed the speech of one home-raised African Grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus erithacus) across three different social contexts: owner interacting with parrot in the same room, owner and parrot interacting out of view in adjacent rooms, and parrot home alone. The purpose was to determine the extent to which the subject’s speech reflected an understanding of the contextual substitutability (e.g., the word street can be substituted in context for the word road) of the vocalizations that comprised the units in her repertoire (i.e., global co-occurrence of repertoire units; Burgess in Behav Res Methods Instrum Comput 30:188–198, 1998; Lund and Burgess in Behav Res Methods Instrum Comput 28:203–208, 1996). This was accomplished via the human language model hyperspace analog to language (HAL). HAL is contextually driven and bootstraps language “rules” from input without human intervention. Because HAL does not require human tutelage, it provided an objective measure to empirically examine the parrot’s vocalizations. Results indicated that the subject’s vocalization patterns did contain global co-occurrence. The presence of this quality in this nonhuman’s speech may be strongly indicative of higher-order cognitive skills.

Volume

16

Issue

5

pp.

789-801

ISSN

1435-9448