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Dinosaur Has 950 Word Vocabulary
and is um... telepathic...
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
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 witha wide range of material.
He uses words in context, with past, present and future tenses, and is
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
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?"
Dr Goodall says N'kisi's verbal fireworks are an "outstanding example of
In an experiment, the bird and his owner were put in separate rooms and
filmed as the artist opened random envelopes containing picture cards.
Analysis showed the parrot had used appropriate keywords three times more
often than would be likely by chance.
This was despite the researchers discounting responses like "What ya doing
on the phone?" when N'kisi saw a card of a man with a telephone, and "Can
I give you a hug?" with one of a couple embracing.