Created by John Hanes
1. Meet Einstein, a very clever African grey parrot. He makes many different animal noises. He’s a fan of onomatopoeia.
Words that attempt to sound like their natural sound are called onomatopoeia.
2. Watch video 1 of Einstein the parrot and answer the questions below as you listen:
3. Which of the following does Einstein make or do in video 1?
a. clears his throat with a cough |kɔf|
b. calls her sweetheart
c. howls like a wolf
d. tweets |twits| like a bird
e. hoots like an owl |aʊl|
f. cock-a-doodle-doos |ˈkɑːkəˌduːdlˈduːs| (of crows) like a rooster |ˈrustər|
g. makes a penguin sound
h. makes a chimp vocalization
i. makes a pig oink |ɔɪŋk|
j. makes a tiger growl |ɡraʊl|(dogs, bears, lions etc. also growl when angry)
k. sighs after hard work – a sigh |saɪ| – long exhale that expresses sadness, relief or similar feeling.
l. asks “what’s the matter?”
m. whistles and calls a dog |ˈ(h)wɪsəlz|
n. yawns |jɔnz| when bored
0. barks like a dog
4. Watch Video 2 of Einstein doing a similar but slightly different routine.
What does Einstein do in the first video that he doesn’t do in the second?
5. Which of the following sets of things does he do in the 2nd video but not the first?
1. barks like a dog, makes a skunk joke, laughs, screams, whew! (for relief or after hard work), knocks at door, car engine, happy birthday, sings in the shower, burps, yeehaw, meows like a cat.
2. Says “I’m a superstar”, makes laser sounds, quacks like a duck, screeches, water, the sound of falling down, an evil sound, a fiesta sound, asks for a beer
6. What sounds do these make?
7. Check your knowledge of these words with this crossword puzzle:
8.1 Which of these sounds do we associate with:
Night time and fear?
Morning and sunrise?
Alert to danger?
Spring and Summer?
8.2 Think about times in you personal history where you have experienced these sounds and associations with memories?
How old where you?
Where were you? Was it unusual to hear this sound for you or in this situation?
For example: Before I stayed at my uncle’s farm I had only heard a rooster crow on television. But the first I awoke with a loud cock-a-doodle-doo just like I’d seen on TV. It was a big surprise, then the dogs started barking.
9. In nature parrots often mimic the sounds of the jungle for a variety of reasons.
What do you think about Einstein’s ability to use human words, is this language?
Is he using the words the way people use word?
Does he understand what they mean when he uses them, or is it a simple learned response like a dog barking when it wants a snack?
Can animals really understand human language?
Do they have their own language we’re only beginning to understand?