Eleni Kamma
C Like Choirs , C Like Copy / P Like Parrots , P Like Paste

Alexios Papazacharias

The language of the birds has long been a topic for anecdote and speculation.¹ In mythology, medieval literature and occultism, the language of the birds is postulated as a mystical, perfect divine language, green language, adamic language, enochian language, angelic language or a mythical or magical language used by birds to communicate with the initiated.² Some musicologists believe that birdsong has had a large influence on the development of music.³ Dating to the Renaissance, birdsong was the inspiration for some magical engineered languages, in particular musical languages.⁴ However, a language has, in addition to words, structures and rules. Studies to demonstrate the existence of language have been difficult due to the range of possible interpretations. Research on parrots by Irene Pepperberg is claimed to demonstrate the innate ability for grammatical structures, including the existence of concepts such as nouns, adjectives and verbs.⁵

Many parrots can imitate human speech or other sounds.⁶ Irene Pepperberg suggested a high learning ability in an African Grey Parrot named Alex.⁷ The journal Animal Cognition stated that some birds preferred to work alone, while others like to work together as with African Grey Parrots. With two parrots, they know the order of tasks or when they should do something together at once, but they have trouble to exchanging roles. With three parrots, one parrot usually prefers to cooperate with one of the other two, but all of them are cooperating to solve the task.⁸

Cooperation is the process by which the components of a system work together to achieve the global properties. In other words, individual components that appear to be “selfish“ and independent work together to create a highly complex , greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts system . Examples can be found all around us.⁹ A body of singers who perform together as a group is called a choir or chorus.¹⁰ Choirs are often led by a conductor or choirmaster. Most often choirs consist of four sections intended to sing in four part harmony, but there is no limit to the number of possible parts as long as there is a singer available to sing the part.¹¹

Leadership is “organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal .“ The leader may or may not have any formal authority.¹² The democratic leadership style consists of the leader sharing the decision-making abilities with group members by promoting the interests of the group members and by practicing social equality.¹³ While there is no universally accepted definition of “democracy“, equality and freedom have both been identified as important characteristics of democracy since ancient times.¹⁴

The most common system that is deemed “democratic“ in the modern world is parliamentary democracy in which the voting public takes part in elections and chooses politicians to represent them in a Legislative Assembly.¹⁵ In politics, representation describes how some individuals stand in for others or a group of others , for a certain time period.¹⁶ Representation is the use of signs that stand in for and take the place of something else. It is through representation that people organize the world and reality through the act of naming its elements.¹⁷

Alex was trained to use words to identify objects , describe them , count them , and even answer complex questions such as “How many red squares ?“ with over 80% accuracy.¹⁸ Parrots, along with ravens, crows, jays and magpies, are among the most intelligent birds, and the ability of some species to imitate human voices enhances their popularity as pets.¹⁹ Imitation is an advanced behavior whereby an individual observes and replicates another's. The word can be applied in many contexts, ranging from animal training to international politics. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery.²⁰

Alex had a vocabulary of about 100 words, but he was one of the most famous birds because of his cognitive abilities . In 2005, World Science reported that Alex understood the concept of zero.²¹

¹ http : //en .wikipedia .org / wiki / Bird _ vocalization
² http : //en .wikipedia .org / wiki / Language _ of _ the _ birds
³ http : //en .wikipedia .org / wiki / Bird _ vocalization
⁴ http : //en .wikipedia .org / wiki / Language _ of _ the _ birds
⁵ http : //en .wikipedia .org / wiki / Bird _ vocalization
⁶ http : //en .wikipedia .org / wiki / Parrot
⁷ http : //en .wikipedia .org / wiki / Parrot
⁸ http : //en .wikipedia .org / wiki / Parrot
⁹ http : //en .wikipedia .org / wiki / Cooperation
¹⁰ http : //en .wikipedia .org / wiki / Choir
¹¹ http : //en .wikipedia .org / wiki / Choir
¹² http : //en .wikipedia .org / wiki / Leader
¹³ http : //en .wikipedia .org / wiki / Leader
¹⁴ http : //en .wikipedia .org / wiki / Democracy
¹⁵ http : //en .wikipedia .org / wiki / Democracy
¹⁶ http : //en .wikipedia .org / wiki / Representation _ ( politics )
¹⁷ http : //en .wikipedia .org / wiki / Representation _ ( arts )
¹⁸ http : //en .wikipedia .org / wiki / Parrot
¹⁹ http : //en .wikipedia .org / wiki / Parrot
²⁰ http : //en .wikipedia .org / wiki / Imitation
²¹ http : //en .wikipedia .org / wiki / Talking _bird

[Alexios Papazacharias in: P Like Politics, P Like Parrots booklet accompanying the exhibitions P like Politics like Parrots, curated by Denys Zacharopoulos and Alexios Papazacharias, in Alex Mylona Museum, Athens and Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki]