Camille Coye

Experimental evidence of the existence of a proto-language in two species of African non-human primates : Influence of social relationships and context on vocal communication

Studies of animal communication have increased in past years in order to improve our understanding of the origin of human language and to identify the cognitive processes related to communication in animals . I start a PhD co-directed by Pr Klaus Zuberbühler (University of Neuchâtel) and Dr Alban Lemasson (University of Rennes 1), during which I will study the vocal communication of two african non-human primate species : Campbell's monkeys ( Cercopithecus campbelli ) and diana monkey (Cercopithecus diana diana ). Previous studies demonstrated, in the vocal communication of forest guenons, some characteristics present in the human language such as "syntax", conversationnal rules and vocal convergence. This suggests that we can find precursors of language in the primate lineage and needs further investigations ; which will be the subject of this PhD. This study will consist in a comparative analysis of the communicative abilities of the two species studied using field experiments on habituated groups of wild monkeys living in the Taï National Park, in Ivory Coast. During this PhD we will study the existence of a proto-language in the species concerned, by testing the impact of social relationships and context on the production and use of vocalisations by these monkeys.



Since July 2016:
PhD, subject: 'Vocal combinations in guenon communication'



Coye, C., Zuberbühler, K., & Lemasson, A. (2016). Morphologically structured vocalizations in female Diana monkeys. Animal Behaviour, 115, 97–105.

Bouchet, H., Coye, C., & Lemasson, A. (2016). Le langage est-il le propre de l’homme? Apports des études sur les primates non humains. Tétralogiques, 21, 87-133.

Coye, C., Ouattara, K., Zuberbühler, K., & Lemasson, A. (2015). Suffixation influences receivers’ behaviour in non-human primates. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 282(1807), 20150265.

Candiotti, A., Coye, C., Ouattara, K., Petit, E. J., Vallet, D., Zuberbühler, K., & Lemasson, A. (2015). Female Bonds and Kinship in Forest Guenons. International Journal of Primatology, 36(2), 332-352.