Rogue Syntax: Episode 3, part 1. We listen in to animal signals, and attempt to place them within the context of their own worlds – calls, responses, songs and sonic forms we as yet lack the capacity to understand.
In the early 20th century, experiments with a performing horse, “Clever Hans”, sparked off a wave of scientific interest in the communication capacities of animals which continue today.
Episode 3 of Rogue Syntax exists of two parts, which both deal with this legacy of what happens when humans try to make non-humans talk. This first part explores the stories of “talking” horses and chimpanzee sign language experiments; introduces concepts such as operant conditioning and the observer expectancy effect in the context of language learning; and discusses the ethical and psychological effects of what happens when we make animals communicate with us.