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Communication between animals and humans: language, understanding and matters of attitude in human-animal interaction

By Sandra Grötsch

Category Conference Proceedings

Sandra Grötsch, University of Oulu, Finland Conversation strategies between animals and humans. Language,understanding and matters of attitude in human-animal interaction. Literature and especially fantasy literature provides us with numerous examples of conversation types between animals and humans. This presentation is going to look at texts from among others J. R. R. Tolkien and J. K. Rowling in order to analyse communication between human and non-human participants. In this presentation the difference between animals and non-humans possessing human language to those that do not is examined. Rhetoric as well as silence in animal communication and their meanings will also be taken into consideration. Interesting questions raise about the definition of language, its use and communication between different species. What does it mean to possess language? How does human attitude change towards animals that are able to communicate? How do different languages influence the strategies for conversation and the role of the speakers? Literature provides a window into the struggle humans go through when trying to understand animals or fantastic creatures especially in such cases where a common language is missing. The desire to converse with animals and understand them can be found also in the reality outside of texts where engaged scientific examinations try to shed light on the languages and communication realm of animals. The literary instances used in this presentation will show the tradition from myths transported into modern texts to let non-humans express themselves in various ways connected to communication and the relationships humans build with their bestial opposite number.


Mason N McLary

HABRI Central

Date 2012
Pages 1147-1155
ISBN/ISSN 978-84-9749-522-6
Publisher Universidade da Coruña
Location of Publication A Coruña, Spain
Conference Title 10th World Congress of the International Association for Semiotic Studies (IASS/AIS)
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal communication
  2. Animal roles
  3. Animals in culture
  4. Communication
  5. Fantasy
  6. Human-animal interactions
  7. Human-animal relationships
  8. Languages
  9. Literature
  10. Rhetoric
  11. silence