Dolphin communication may be deciphered using human whistled languages.

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Dolphin communication may be deciphered using human whistled languages.

Whistling is used by about 80 distinct human societies to communicate over large distances.

Scientists argue in a new report published Tuesday in the journal Frontiers in Psychology that these languages can help researchers better understand dolphin communication.

Whistled languages arose mostly in areas where humans live, move, and work in harsh environments with high elevations. Whistles with a high frequency can be heard across vast distances, allowing humans to converse without needing to see each other.

Though each whistled language is distinct from the culture from which it arose, they all follow a similar pattern, with whistled tunes replacing the syllables of condensed words.

Whistled languages can convey a surprising amount of information. Whistled Turkish speakers in Turkey can understand up to 90% of popular sentences.

Whistled languages have previously been used by scientists to get insight into how the human brain interprets language.

In the 1960s, Ren-Guy Busnel, a whistled language expert from France, argued that they would be useful in determining the evolutionary roots of bottlenose dolphin communication.

The research team, which included several of Busnel’s old colleagues, looked at how whistled languages could reveal commonalities in the ways bottlenose dolphins and humans interact in the new publication.

One of the challenges in researching both dolphin and human whistles is that phonemes, the sound components that differentiate one word from another, are difficult to identify.

Whistled communication sonograms, or images of the conveyed sounds, show a series of phonemes that aren’t always separated by silences.

According to research co-author Diana Reiss, a professor of psychology at Hunter College in New York, “scientists seeking to understand the whistled communication of dolphins and other whistling species generally categorize whistles based on the silent periods between whistles.”

Future studies of whistled languages, whether in the context of human or dolphin communication, will need to use both sound recordings and sonograms to illuminate the structural aspects of whistled languages.

Researchers intend to combine a growing database of whistled languages with a similarly big collection of dolphin whistle data in future investigations.

“We will create new algorithms and verify certain assumptions regarding combinatorial organization using this data,” said Julien Meyer, primary project leader and linguist at the French National Center for Scientific Research.

To decode dolphin communication, scientists must first discover the… Article Summary from Nokia News

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