A law of word meaning in dolphin whistle types
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We show that dolphin whistle types tend to be used in specific behavioral contexts, which is consistent with the hypothesis that dolphin whistle have some sort of “meaning”. Besides, in some cases, it can be shown that the behavioral context in which a whistle tends to occur or not occur is shared by different individuals, which is consistent with the hypothesis that dolphins are communicating through whistles. Furthermore, we show that the number of behavioral contexts significantly associated with a certain whistle type tends to grow with the frequency of the whistle type, a pattern that is reminiscent of a law of word meanings stating, as a tendency, that the higher the frequency of a word, the higher its number of meanings. Our findings indicate that the presence of Zipf's law in dolphin whistle types cannot be explained with enough detail by a simplistic die rolling experiment.
CitationFerrer-i-Cancho, R.; McCowan, B. A law of word meaning in dolphin whistle types. "Entropy: international and interdisciplinary journal of entropy and information studies", 30 Octubre 2009, vol. 11, núm. 4, p. 688-701.