How Linguists try to Decipher the Monkey Language

Campell Monkey

It was pretty clear that "krak" ist the Campell Monkey term for "Leopard in sight", as scientists determined it by observing them in their home forests of Ivory Coast. Research revealed: The Campell Monkey vocabulary differenciates in this regard between hawks, leopards, and other but minor potential sources of danger. You need to know by here that those monkeys are famous for their advanced communication forms with rudiment syntax. Ok, so the assumption, "krak" means "Leopard" was stable until they found recently Campell Monkeys on Tiwai Island in Sierra Leone, that use the same vocabulary but obviuosly with a different meaning - as there are no leopards on this island. As they failed to get a plausible explanation they with their current approach, they startet to think in more linguistic patterns and to apply linguistic methodology - and finally encountered a solution that seems to be rather promising:

Here’s where it gets tricky: word meanings tend to be contextual. In human language, we choose the most specific term available and, when we don’t, the listener infers that there is a special reason why we opted for a relatively vague word. Simply put, “words compete with each other,” Schlenker says. “And you use the more informative one.”


See the article on the Scientific American: Monkey See, Monkey Speak

Or read the paper by Philippe Schlenker et al.: Monkey semantics: two ‘dialects’ of Campbell’s monkey alarm calls

Image: "Cercopithecus campbelli lowei“ von Badgernet - Eigenes Werk. Lizenziert unter CC BY-SA 3.0 über Wikimedia Commons.

Semantic and Contextual Online Marketing

On Gründerszene, Torge Kahl published an great overview of the targeting methods in online advertising (sorry, only in German). Obviously, I am especially interested in the contextual and semantic targeting techniques. There are some funny (well, depends on the point of view) not so adequate article placements based soley on context...

Diese Targeting-Methoden orientieren sich am Text der Webseite, auf der das Banner ausgeliefert wird. Man unterscheidet zwischen kontextuellem und semantischem Targeting.

Gründerszene: Display Marketing Mit diesen Targeting-Verfahren kommen Eure Werbebanner gut an

Nachruf auf Fillmore

Charles J. Fillmore, one of the world’s greatest linguists — ever — died last Thursday, February 13, at the age of 84 in San Francisco. He was the discoverer of frame semantics, who did the essential research on the nature of framing in thought and language.

George Lakoff: Charles Fillmore, Discoverer of Frame Semantics, Dies in SF at 84: He Figured Out How Framing Works