By Stephen Walker
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Some sort of prelinguistic use of the voice in human ancestry can hardly be doubted, although whether at one stage ‘the males or females or both sexes, before acquiring the power of expressing their mutual love in articulate language, endeavoured to charm each other with musical notes and rhythm’ is another matter. It must be admitted that the breaking of the male voice at puberty is unlikely to be related to the intellectual uses of language, and singing and dancing, at least in their less refined forms, seem to have retained some connection with sexual display and attraction.
163). The unique ability of man ‘consists in his being able to mean a proposition’ (p. 164, original italics). In other words, the essential feature of human speech is the sentence, or ideas expressed as relations between words, most simply as connections between subjects, objects and verbs. In all of Romanes’s 51 anecdotes, there were none which suggested that dogs, apes, or parrots communicated in this way, although he quotes cases of dogs appearing to understand sentences such as ‘the sheep are in the potatoes’.
On seeing the curtains open for the first time in the apparent absence of a human agent, the dog spent some time looking for an alternative cause. This is taken to indicate that there is a degree of animal intelligence even in the absence of language. Brutes, however, have only a single intellect, based on direct knowledge, whereas we have a double intellect, verbal reasoning providing the addition of thought, memory, deliberation, and the rest. Only faint traces of these latter faculties, including memory, can according to Schopenhauer be observed in animals, and then only in favoured individuals of the 37 highest species.