Oct 19, 2010
In today's podcast, we get a tantalizing taste of words in the wild, from the jungles to the prairie.
Reporter Ari Daniel Shapiro tells us about Klaus Zuberbuhler's work in the Tai Forest of West Africa. When Klaus first came to the forest, he hit a wall of sound. But he slowly started making sense of that sonic chaos by scaring a particular monkey called the Diana Monkey. Turns out, the Diana Monkey is making more than just noise. Then we jump from the jungle to the prairie, where Con Slobodchikoff has discovered what he calls a grammar of color, shapes, and sizes embedded in prairie dog chirps. His discovery leaves Jad and Robert wondering whether we could ever understand the language of a different species. Back in the jungle, Klaus is wondering the same thing, and tells us about one day when the cacophony of monkey calls distilled into a life-saving warning.