We just translated chimpanzee language. They’re talking about snakes.

Unknown‘A study was published in Nature examining communication among chimpanzees. It found that chimps use “words,” and can combine the words into “syntactic-like structures,” the beginnings of phrases / sentences.


Chimpanzees produce ‘alarm-huus’ when surprised and ‘waa-barks’ when potentially recruiting conspecifics during aggression or hunting. Anecdotal data suggested chimpanzees combine these calls specifically when encountering snakes. Using snake presentations, we confirm call combinations are produced when individuals encounter snakes and find that more individuals join the caller after hearing the combination.


So chimps have a “word” for surprise/danger and a “word” for come quickly, and when they combine them when seeing a snake, they are forming a proto-sentence with the approximate meaning of “Holy crap, get over here!”…’ (Ruben Bolling, Boing Boing)

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