Hold the front page: prairie dogs still don’t have language

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Back in February 2010 I posted a piece about Dr. Con Slobodchikoff’s research into prairie dogs and their language, expressing my deep scepticism. This eventually came to Dr Slobodchikoff’s notice and he posted a comment inviting me to check out his webpage, ‘freely available on Google’ he said, where I would find details of the many peer-reviewed research papers he has published on the subject. Well, I did check out his list of publications, and there are lots of them, but none at all in linguistics. Journals like Behavioural Ecology, Mammology  and Intelligent Automation and Soft Computing, are not in any Learning Resources Centre near me, nor are they freely available to people who might want to get hold of them. So I picked a not-too-expensive book, ‘Kinship with Animals’ edited by Solisti and Tobias, in which Dr S. has a chapter about his prairie dog research. Having now read this, I can confidently reaffirm my initial scepticism about them having language. They don’t. Continue reading