Songbird Phrases Have Several Similar Patterns to Human Speech, Study Finds

According to the researchers, more than a dozen songbirds follow speech patterns similar to those of humans. You may notice the repetition of melodies or phrases when listening to songbirds. Each phrase is made up of separate sounds that have been tied together, according to the study.

According to Daily mail, the sounds of 15 species of birds, such as the wild canary, zebra finch, chaffinch, swamp sparrow and swamp warbler, have been studied by zoologists at McGill University in Canada.

They found that the longer the sentence, the more the individual rings within – a trend already seen in humans and recognized as Menzerath’s Law. Menzerath’s Rule states that large linguistic structures are made up of lesser components, according to German phonetician Paul Menzerath. Longer words, by law, have more syllables, although those syllables are usually shorter.

Linguists believe the legislation will improve communication by making things easier to understand or express, not only for humans, but for other creatures as well.

McGill researchers have found negative correlations between the amount and length of components in all 15 species, indicating that the rule exists in birds.

Although researchers have observed Menzerath’s Law in every songbird species they have studied, and many others have found it in primates and penguins, they are not convinced that it automatically represents increased communication efficiency in non-human animals.

Menzerath’s Law can simply make communication more effective in people by making things easier to understand or convey. In the case of birds, however, it is possible that their vocal sounds are simply limited by the anatomy of their syrinx, the avian vocal organ at the top of the trachea.

Surprisingly, the study found that the brain processes that regulate respiration and vocal muscles appear to be organized in the same way in birds and humans. Additionally, when researchers looked at the song patterns of birds that were normally fed and educated by their parents to those that were not taught to sing by their parents, they found the same patterns.

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