Friday, July 13, 2007

Learning Thai -- The Language of Crows

This morning, at dawn, I listened to the morning time time news delivered by a large, achromatic crow in the tree next to my sleeping room window. This crow have a very big vocabulary, and its linguistic communication is tonal, like Thai. Although gloats can do only one sound, which in English Language we transcribe as "caw", in fact it utilizes the same five tones of voice as Thai.

The morning time news lasted about 10 minutes, with frequent pauses, which I took to be the intermission between sentences or paragraphs. This crow used repeat and tones of voice to make different words. Unlike Thai, which only extras a word to bespeak a generic plural, the crow would publish as many as five indistinguishable caws quickly, then hesitate slightly. I took the five caws to be one word or phrase.

Thai utilizes five tones: low, middle, high, rising, and falling. The crow used the same tones. There was clearly a "caw?" and a "caw!", which were quite distinct from the other three caws: low caw, center caw, and high caw.

As far as I could tell, the crow did not reiterate itself during the 10 minute news announcement. I could not hear any answering crow, so I took this as general broadcast news, as opposing to "hey, I'm looking for a mate!".

In Thailand, 20 old age ago, I lived at JB Sign Of The Zodiac on Phaholyothin Road, Soi 3. I often went into the pool, but I had to wait until sunset, as I have got just tegument and fire easily. There was a big bird, perhaps a parrot or toucan, in a coop that was obviously too small, on the balcony of the flat edifice next door.

All day, this bird sent out a single whistle, which I took to mean, "Is anyone there?"

One day, I repeated the whistle back to him. It was easy to reproduce and I did it accurately.

The bird immediately perked up, shifted around on its perch, sat up straight, turned its caput around in both directions, and issued a different whistle which I had never heard before.

I duplicated that whistle, and the bird looked confused. It atilt its head, shifted around, then issued the 2nd whistle again.

I repeated it.

The bird settled down, and went back to issuing the first whistle.

So what happened here?

Clearly, if the first whistle meant "Is anyone there?", the 2nd whistle meant "I am here, who are you?" and it should have got been followed by a 3rd whistle, which I did not know.

This is similar to the "discovery protocol" used in computing machine communications, for illustration with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi devices. An initial signal, called "Attention" in computer-speak, is followed by an "Acknowledgement", and then a "Begin Transmission". This is also termed a "handshake".

When communicating with the parrot, the handshaking failed as I did not supply the right 3rd whistle, and the bird realized that I was not another parrot.

Getting back to the crow, it did not make what the parrot did, that is, issue a single sound repeatedly. It was clearly speaking different sentences for a long clip period of time, 10 minutes, without repeating itself, as far as I could tell.

In Australia, some gloats in the Northern District have got got figured out how to eat cane toads, which have two toxicant pouches behind the head. Normally, anything that eats a cane frog dies. Because of this, cane frogs have got got distribute southwards and have now reached Sydney. But the gloats near Charles Darwin have got figured out that if they toss the frog onto its back, they can eat the cane frog by going through the stomach.

Amazing birds, crows. I never realized before today that they spoke a version of Thai. I wrote Talk Easy Tai to assist people larn Thai; maybe I should compose a Talk Easy Crow.

1 comment:

DougBangkok said...

Harvey, you're not a very good netizen, are you? You take articles from the article site, alter any links so they no longer work, and omit the author bio box so it looks like you wrote the article.

Are you an asshole in your everyday life as well?