Interspecies coevolution of languages on the Northwest Coast?

It turns out that the NY Times' article "What scientists believe but they can't prove" is an extract of a far larger essay collection at an online magazine called The Edge. There are further articles there, and a surprising number on the nature of consciousness and the relation of language to consciousness. Another one I found fascinating was:

Interspecies coevolution of languages on the Northwest Coast.
GEORGE B. DYSON - Science Historian; Author, Project OrionDuring the years I spent kayaking along the coast of British Columbia and Southeast Alaska, I observed that the local raven populations spoke in distinct dialects, corresponding surprisingly closely to the geographic divisions between the indigenous human language groups. Ravens from Kwakiutl, Tsimshian, Haida, or Tlingit territory sounded different, especially in their characteristic "tok" and "tlik."
I believe this correspondence between human language and raven language is more than coincidence, though this would be difficult to prove.

This is fascinating from a number of levels. For one, how many people today are aware of the sounds birds make anymore? How many people would notice that ravens in different regions make slightly different sounds? Add to that the requirement of being familiar with the various northwest indigenous languages, and how many people could even notice the above fact, much less make any conscious connections?

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This page contains a single entry by Daniel Hindes published on January 14, 2005 6:58 PM.

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