Prosody Discrimination by Songbirds (Padda oryzivora).
In human verbal communication, not only lexical information, but also paralinguistic information plays an important role in transmitting the speakers' mental state. Paralinguistic information is conveyed mainly through acoustic features like pitch, rhythm, tempo and so on. These acoustic features are generally known as prosody. It is known that some species of birds can discriminate certain aspects of human speech. However, there have not been any studies on the discrimination of prosody in human language which convey different paralinguistic meanings by birds. In the present study, we have shown that the Java sparrow (Padda oryzivora) can discriminate different prosodic patterns of Japanese sentences. These birds could generalize prosodic discrimination to novel sentences, but could not generalize sentence discrimination to those with novel prosody. Moreover, unlike Japanese speakers, Java sparrows used the first part of the utterance as the discrimination cue.