Emmanuel Procyk invited Frédéric Berthommier and Louis-Jean Boe from the GIPSA-lab (Grenoble) to come and give a talk on their latests results on baboon:
Evidence of a vocalic proto-System in the Baboon (Papio papio):
A longstanding and widespread theory claims that human speech requires a low larynx position and therefore that their high larynx should preclude non-human primates from uttering the distinct vocalizations required for vowel systems. To test this assertion, we analyzed a database containing 1381 vocalizations (grunt, wahoo, copulation call, bark, and yak) of Guinea baboons (Papio papio). Acoustic analysis revealed four vocalic classes, corresponding to the /ɨ æ ɑ u/ vowels of the world's human languages. Anatomic study of the baboon’s tongue musculature shows strong similarities with humans, and confirmed that the baboons canshape their vocal tract to produce these vocal qualities. This proto-system of vocalizations might be at the origin of vowel systems found in all human languages.