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Java sparrow can discriminate subtle nuances in human verbal communication

Update:Oct. 26, 2012

Dr. Shigeru Watanabe, professor at Keio University's Faculty of Letters, and former student Nozomi Naoi, Major in Psychology at the Faculty of Letters, confirmed in an experiment that the Java sparrow can discriminate subtle prosodic nuances in human communication.
In human conversation, the meanings of words themselves are important. At the same time, the information conveyed may differ entirely depending on paralinguistic information, or prosody, the way in which an utterance is spoken. Using the same sentence, we can express a positive feeling of admiration, or we can indicate a feeling of suspicion. Is it because we are human that we can understand these subtle prosodic differences?
The research group trained Java sparrows to discriminate between two utterances of the same "so'H desu ka" (Is that so) sentence, one with a prosody of admiration and another of suspicion. Not only could the Java sparrows discriminate paralinguistic information for this utterance, but they were also able to discriminate the prosody of admiration and suspicion in a completely different sentence: "ana'ta desu ka" (Is that you ).
This experiment is the first to demonstrate that animals other than human beings can distinguish the differences of prosody in human language. These results were published in the American scientific journal PLOS ONE on October 18 (Japan Time). (