Speech (Encyclopedia of Science)
Speech is defined as the ability to communicate thoughts, ideas, or other information by means of sounds that have clear meaning to others.
Many animals make sounds that might seem to be a form of speech. For example, one may sound an alarm that a predator is in the area. The sound warns others of the same species that an enemy is in their territory. Or an animal may make soothing sounds to let offspring know that a parent is present. Most scientists regard these sounds as something other than true speech.
Some animals can copy human speech to a certain extent also. Many birds, for example, can repeat words that they have been taught. This form of mimicry also does not qualify as true speech.
True speech consists of two essential elements. First, an organism has to be able to develop and phrase thoughts to be expressed. Second, the organism has to have the anatomical equipment with which to utter clear words that convey those thoughts. Most scientists believe that humans are the only species capable of speech.
Speech has been a critical element in the evolution of the human species. It is a means by which a people's history can be handed down from one generation to the next. It enables one person to convey knowledge to a roomful of other people. It can be used to amuse, to rouse, to anger, to express sadness, to communicate...
(The entire section is 1043 words.)
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