Do parrots know what they are talking about?

Naturalists believe that Amazon parrot and African grey parrot understand some of the words they mimic, but other parrots don’t seem to have developed this faculty. True, the parrots have keen ears and a clever brain, so that they hear very distinctly the words uttered in their presence. They can reproduce with their throat and tongue and beak many of the sounds they hear. However, so far as attaching any meaning to the sound is concerned, parrots’ speech is only echo speech.

If we could believe that a parrot understood what it said, we should have put the parrot on something like our own level in the scale of being. But it has been found that all the words are just algebra if it hears it often enough. The process that goes on in the parrot’s brain is no more and no less than what occurs in our brain when we simply imitate or repeat the sounds of words spoken to us in some foreign language of which we know nothing.

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