“Does language make humans different?” Although most animals can communicate in one way or another (verbal on non-verbal), humans can do it verbally with precision and efficiency unprecedented. While there are hundreds and thousands of animals that can communicate I will only cover dogs, songbirds, and last but not least, ants. Songbirds communicate verbally using their different songs to communicate what they want. Ants communicate verbally also, though since they are tone deaf, they rely on the length of the sound and the sounds volume.
Dogs communicate both verbally and non-verbally. Verbally they usually rely on barking, but also whimpering. The barking is normally a warning or a showing of dominance, while whimpering is a sign of fear. Non-verbally if they have to go to the bathroom per se, they stand by the door to be let out, or if a dog is hungry it may go stand by its food bowl or it may go to the kitchen or go to nag you by following you wherever you go. From animals large, and small, almost all of them can communicate be it by making noises, by singing, by calling, or even by twitching.
Ants and songbirds are very much alike, but also very different. They both use noises to communicate, but while songbirds use notes and tunes, ants use the length of the sound and its volume. Ants use this skill to work as a team with other ants, while songbirds mainly use their calls for warning calls in case of danger. They use their songs mainly for (but not limited to) mating calls. They know these calls and songs instinctively. Dogs are “man’s best friend” for a reason. They are very intelligent and are also very friendly. They rely on us just as much as we rely on them.
They use verbal and non-verbal communication in a surprisingly effective way to help us understand what they want. It is amazing that they have adapted a way to communicate with us and that we have been able to do the same with them. Dogs have adapted to become like this through evolution. My dog licks people when being affectionate. Dogs used to be fear-based and wild when they first met man. An alliance of sorts was built up from need to survive.
Language makes humans different in the fact that our language is precise and efficient. Many other animals can communicate though not in this way. Human language is by far the most advanced and this diversity of vocabulary has been cumulative; it has been built up over time and is not an instinctual thing. Language makes humans different. Almost all species of animals can communicate but none of them really have a language. Their ability to communicate is instinctual; ours is not. Also we have more than a hundred different languages (although some of them are dead).
Also, we have symbolic meaning in items which animals do not. For example, a wedding ring. A human can also build off of the collective knowledge and be innovative. The knowledge that was discovered by neanderthals as they hunted and cut the meat off the bone by creating sharp tools out of stone, was communicated to the generations that followed. The need for Homo Sapiens to speak to each other as they socialized around the fires of by-gone-years helped evolve speech. Anthropologists and archeologists have puzzled together the connective story of the evolution of speech: from grunts that may have helped in the teamwork of hunting for food to the complex languages that have great efficiency and are still based in necessity and environment.
For example, there are many different words for “snowflakes” for the eskimos; this is due to their need to know the weather conditions. Through the omega 3s in meat and the necessity to be more and more precise we have grown our memories.