Yes they can. Dolphins, chimps, and gorillas have been taught sign language. In particular, Koko the gorilla knows 2000 signs and can use 1000. She has been known to use them in sentences and to join them together to form new meanings such as finger and bracelet to mean a ring. Recently she complained of tooth ache and rated her pain on a scale of 1 to 10. There are numerous other apes in studies like this.
Other species understand us to some extent, such as dogs responding to simple voice commands. But this does not prove anyhting as usually gestures are used as well.
As Carl Sagan said- “It is of interest to note that while some dolphins are reported to have learned English — up to fifty words used in correct context — no human being has been reported to have learned dolphinese.” It says a lot about us!
Training relies on linking cause and effect, and the basic is that you make the noise ‘sit’ and link it with the action. Some trainers never move beyond that. Good trainers can build a close relationship with a smart animal and go further. Proving it to a rigorous scientific standard is difficult and involves setting up a test. The animal has to be introduced to a new situation and gain insight on what to do when the only cue is human language. You also have to make sure the dog can’t pick up cues from your behaviour or body language by hiding. We can test our dogs at home to our own satisfaction, it goes beyond the dog simply learning a long list of noises linked to objects or actions. Many people like to think of humans as ‘better’ and find this sort of thing difficult to accept. This is nothing to do with loving animals, just about understanding them and their capabilities.
No. I have never seen or heard of an animal that understands any human language.
Umm, I don’t necessarily think that they understand EVERY single word if they’re new to hearing it just like a baby but I think if you were talk to an animal or pet for years then I think it might understand you and I definitely think that it understands the emotions by your tone of voice and everything. 🙂
Hope this helps!
some ppl believe that animals talk to them and if an animal hears a word with its action enough it will eventually understand what it means.
of course some can. humans can understand humans…
Border Collies are. I’m sure of it!
my dog, simba understands me