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Animal Languages Reviews

Animal Languages by Eva Meijer

Animal Languages

The secret conversations of the living world

Eva Meijer

Score pending

2 reviews

Category: Non-fiction
Imprint: John Murray Publishers Ltd
Publisher: John Murray Press
Publication date: 12 Nov 2019
ISBN: 9781473677678

A fascinating and philosophical exploration of animal intelligence and the way animals communicate with each other, and us.

  • The Sunday TimesMust Read
4 stars out of 5
James McConnachie
10 Nov 2019

"a rich compendium of incidents, anecdotes and studies illustrating the linguistic abilities of animals"

As a survey of the evidence, this is a rewarding book. In her final pages, however, Meijer tackles the philosophical and ethical implications. Language, she argues, is not a uniquely human ability — and there’s no reason for us to consider ourselves exceptional. For Meijer, this means we must treat animals very differently, recognising specific rights for instance. Not everyone will agree. But it would be hard to argue with the book’s central point. Instead of asking if animal vocalisations, gestures or actions “count” as language, Meijer writes, “we should instead pay attention to what they are saying”. 

Reviews

3 stars out of 5
30 Nov 2019

"her barrage of stories is fascinating and there is much to learn from them"

Deploying case after case, Meijer proves that many animals are sophisticated, more intelligent than we may have assumed and often surprising (‘Animals Do the Darndest Things’ could have been a workable alternative title). Yet proving that all of this communicative activity amounts to one or more ‘languages’ is a challenge she should have approached with more seriousness.