Monday, May 01, 2006

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Parrot's oratory stuns scientists

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Parrot's oratory stuns scientists: "The finding of a parrot with an almost unparalleled power to communicate with people has brought scientists up short.

The bird, a captive African grey called N'kisi, has a vocabulary of 950 words, and shows signs of a sense of humour.

He invents his own words and phrases if he is confronted with novel ideas with which his existing repertoire cannot cope - just as a human child would do.

N'kisi's remarkable abilities, which are said to include telepathy, feature in the latest BBC Wildlife Magazine.

N'kisi is believed to be one of the most advanced users of human language in the animal world.

About 100 words are needed for half of all reading in English, so if N'kisi could read he would be able to cope with a wide range of material.

Polished wordsmith

He uses words in context, with past, present and future tenses, and is often inventive.

One N'kisi-ism was 'flied' for 'flew', and another 'pretty smell medicine' to describe the aromatherapy oils used by his owner, an artist based in New York.

When he first met Dr Jane Goodall, the renowned chimpanzee expert, after seeing her in a picture with apes, N'kisi said: 'Got a chimp?'

N'kisi with picture card and teacher Grace Roselli
School's in: He is a willing learner
He appears to fancy himself as a humourist. When another parrot hung upside down from its perch, he commented: 'You got to put this bird on the camera.'"

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