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Birds do not have a many-layered cortex like mammals), there are significant similarities in the neural circuitry used for the production and learning of vocalizations. Jarvis (2004a, 2004b, 2007) argues for a hypothesis that ‘vocal learning birds—songbirds, parrots, and hummingbirds—and humans have comparable specialized forebrain regions that are not found in their close vocal non-learning relatives’ Jarvis (2007, p. 35). To argue this, Jarvis has to depend on a number of hypothesized functional equivalences of parts among the anatomically different brains involved (of parrots, songbirds, hummingbirds, and humans).

Equally obvious, however, is the remarkable similarity of these two processes at only a modest level of abstraction. . We should have little hesitation in seeing both processes as essentially similar, as the working out of a species’ developmental program in biologically guided maturation. In other words, nestlings and babies both grow up in a specific way, determined in its essence by the fact that they are birds and humans, respectively. (Anderson 2004, p. 165) What this view underemphasizes is the massive functional (semantic) difference between birdsong and language, accompanied by an equally great difference in structural complexity, differences that Anderson elsewhere acknowledges.

At least one (possibly more) of the pair-wise transitions must begin with START, and at least one transition must have END as its second term. The set of transitions must provide at least one ‘route’ from START to END. There is no further restriction on the pair-wise transitions between elements that may be listed as belonging in the language concerned. A First-order Markov language is not necessarily finite. To cite a human example, inclusion of the transition very very beside possible transitions from very to other elements, will generate an infinite language.

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