Many think language makes us uniquely human. Yet bees communicate precisely how to reach a source of pollen from the hive. Birds warn of a predator. Dogs call to each other with their barks and understand our verbal commands. And new studies show that baboons' grunts align with human speech patterns and even plants send signals to each other through their roots.
Is human language just one type of communication, and have we wildly overestimated its importance? Are humans no different in principle from other animals and plants? Or is language profoundly different from all other forms of communication and the enabler of consciousness itself?
Bestselling author of The Genius of Birds Jennifer Ackerman, philosopher and cultural critic Ray Tallis, and author of A Field Guide to Reality and Zed Joanna Kavenna debate the uniqueness of human language.