BBC 6 minute English-Talking monkeys

BBC 6 minute English-Talking monkeys

BBC 6 minute English-Talking monkeys

   

Transcript of the podcast

Finn: Hello, I’m Finn. This is 6 Minute English and I’m joined this week by Neil. Hello Neil

Finn: Err, Neil

Finn: Neil, are you OK

Finn: Actually that wasn’t Neil, you’ll be glad to know, he is safe and sound here in the studio with me

Neil: Hello. Yes, that wonderful sound you just heard was in fact a gelada – a kind of monkey – which we’ll be hearing more from later in the programme

Finn: Yes. Could the gelada monkey provide an important clue about the development of human language? But first, as always, we have a question. Neil – could you please tell me what geladas eat

a) fish

b) grass

c) ice-cream

Neil: Well, I can see you’re trying to trap me with ice-cream here, because the name of the monkey sounds like the Italian word for ice-cream. So, I’m not that stupid, I’m going to go for ‘b’, grass

Finn: Wonderful knowledge of Italian there Neil. Don’t worry I’m not trying to make a monkey out of you – I’m not trying to make you look stupid. Now let’s listen to the gelada monkey again. How would we describe that sound

Neil: Well, it sounds a bit like a gargle – a gargling noise

Finn: Yes, it does. Gargle is a great word because it’s an example of what we call onomatopoeia – a word which sounds like its meaning. Neil, gargle is the word, could you please demonstrate a gargle

Neil:Neil gargles

Finn: Very good. Neil is gargling – and the sound it makes is a gargle. That’s lovely

Neil: Can I stop now

Finn: Yes, you can stop now. Thank you very much. How about another quick example of onomatopoeia

A click. Listen again. Click

Neil: Or this, oops

A crash

Finn: Now, anyway, let’s get back to the gargling monkey. Behind the fun sound is some serious science – about the origins, or beginnings, of human speech

Neil: Scientists from the University of Michigan believe that these gelada calls might be similar to the primitive noises – early and simple sounds – that our evolutionary ancestors made, that is – what we, humans, were before we developed into modern humans

Finn: Dr Thore Bergman, who was the main author of the study, said that geladas make sounds which have “speech-like properties” – they have qualities which are like… speech

Neil: And the interesting thing is – most monkeys and apes can only make the most basic noises because they don’t have the vocal anatomy required – that is they don’t have the physical mouth and throat parts needed – to make more complex sounds

Finn: All other monkeys and apes can do is called lip smacking – rapidly moving their jaws, lips and their tongues. And I think, Neil, it’s time for another demonstration please

Neil:Neil making lip smacking noises

Finn: Lip smacking, very nice

Neil: The gelada, on the other hand, is the only one that can produce vocalisations – or sounds from the vocal chords in the throat while doing this

Finn: That’s it! So – lip smacking and vocalisations – together are maybe a possible step between the sounds of other monkeys – and human speech

Neil: Though there is a question – the scientists don’t know yet what the noises mean exactly. They believe the noises might be used the way humans use small talk – chatting about things that are not really important – to help the monkey societies feel more closely bonded or connected

Finn: That’s right, so, small talk, things like saying: Fine day, isn’t it

Neil: Not bad, not bad. How are the kids, Finn

Finn: Oh yeah, keeping me awake all night

Neil: Oh yes, I know the feeling

Finn: Or as you would say in gelada

Finn: I think that’s quite enough monkey business for one day – quite enough of us being silly, wouldn’t you say? Neil, earlier I asked you what geladas eat. Was it

a) fish

b) grass

c) ice-cream

Neil: And I am not stupid so I’m going to go for ‘b’ grass

Finn: And you’re right, they are herbivores, they eat grass. Anyway, before we go let’s run through the words and phrases one more time

Neil:gargle onomatopoeia origins primitive noises evolutionary ancestors vocal anatomy lip smacking vocalisations small talk monkey business

Finn: Thanks Neil. Sadly, it’s time to go. So please join us again soon for more 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English

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