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Grey Parrots Do Not Always ‘Parrot’: The Roles of Imitation and Phonological Awareness in the Creation of New Labels from Existing Vocalizations
  • Irene M. Pepperberg, Brandeis University
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Evidence exists for a form of imitation, vocal segmentation, by a Grey parrot. Data show that the bird understands that his labels are comprised of individual units that can be recombined in novel ways to create a novel referential vocalization; that is, a novel act. Previous data suggested, but could not substantiate, this behaviour. Such evidence implies that a parrot not only has phonological awareness but also demonstrates true imitation rather than mimicry, and has implications for the studies of both the evolution of communicative competence and the development of robotic speech.

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Citation Information
Pepperberg, I. M. (2007). Grey parrots do not always ‘parrot’: the roles of imitation and phonological awareness in the creation of new labels from existing vocalizations. Language sciences, 29(1), 1-13.