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

Image for representational purpose. (Shutterstock Images)

Image for representational purpose. (Shutterstock Images)

Researchers discovered that the longer the phrase of the song birds, the shorter the individual sounds inside - a trend already seen in human beings and recognized as Menzerath's law.

According to researchers, more than a dozen songbirds follow similar speech patterns when compared to humans. One can notice repeating melodies or phrases when listening to songbirds. Each phrase is composed of separate sounds that have been linked together, as per the study.

According to DailyMail, the sounds of 15 bird species, such as the wild canary, zebra finch, common chaffinch, swamp sparrow, and sedge warbler, were studied by zoologists at McGill University in Canada.

They discovered that the longer the phrase, the shorter the individual sounds inside - a trend already seen in human beings and recognized as Menzerath’s law. Menzerath’s rule states that bigger language structures are made up of lesser components, after the German phonetician Paul Menzerath. Longer words, according to the law, have more syllables, although these syllables are usually shorter.

Linguists believe the legislation will improve communication by making things simpler to comprehend or express, not only for humans, but also for other creatures.

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

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

Menzerath’s Law may simply make communication more efficient in people by making things easier to comprehend or convey. In the case of birds, nevertheless, it is possible that their vocal sounds are simply restricted by the anatomy of their syrinx, the avian vocal organ located at the top of the windpipe.

Surprisingly, the study discovered that the brain processes that regulate breathing and vocal muscles appear to be organized similarly in birds and humans. Furthermore, when the researchers examined the singing patterns of birds that were normally nurtured and educated by their parents to those that had not been taught to sing by their parents, they discovered the same patterns.

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