Meaning Redundancy

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Both signed and spoken human language is overly complex; it encodes meaning at multiple levels (morphological, syntactic, semantic, pragmatic). It builds redundancy into the signal by often conveying the same information at different levels of encoding (e.g., morphological and syntactic). This helps to ensure the effectiveness of the communicated message without resorting to extensive repetition. Animal communication both trained and naturally occurring relies on simple one-to-one mappings. Because animal communication has no access to a scaffold of layered meaning with different levels of encoding, it exhibits little to no built-in redundancy. Instead, animal communication both in the laboratory and in the wild relies heavily on extensive use of simple repetition of the same communicative intent.

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