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  • Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Rob

  • And hello! I'm Neil.

  • Hi there Neil. Have you ever had a close encounter with a monkey or an ape?

  • Well I’m sitting right next to you, Rob?

  • Very funny. Neil is referring to the fact that all humans are descended from apes, and

  • apes and monkeys belong to a group of animals called primates. The difference is that monkeys

  • have tails, and apes don’t.

  • Well, I didn’t know that. On a serious note… I had a close shave with some monkeys once

  • in Bali.

  • A close shave is where you only just manage to avoid a dangerous situation. So Neil, what

  • happened?

  • I was walking up a mountain on my own and suddenly a bunch of monkeys jumped out of

  • nowhere, blocking my path.

  • Oh goodness! OK. So what did you do?

  • After standing there for ages while the monkeys screeched at me, I turned round and walked

  • back the way I came.

  • OK. If you screech at someone it means to make a loud, high and unpleasant sound. So

  • the monkeys won that face-off, then!

  • Absolutely! Yes, they did! And a face-off, by the way, means an argument or fight.

  • Well, today’s show is about gibbons and the different sounds they make. Gibbons are

  • small apes that live in Southeast Asia. And while Neil’s monkeys screech unpleasantly,

  • gibbons sound like they are singing.

  • Musical apesthat’s nice! So how about today’s quiz question, Rob?

  • OK, good idea. How far can a gibbon’s voice travel through the forest? Is it

  • a) 500m

  • b) 1km

  • or c) 5km?

  • Hmm. Well, I have to guess and I’m going to say b) 1km.

  • Youve never heard one.

  • Never heard one

  • OK. Well find out later on in the programme whether youre right or wrong. Now let’s

  • listen to what a gibbon really sounds like.

  • Interview with Dr Esther Clarke, researcher at Durham University

  • Interviewer: Let’s just hear this. [gibbons calling] That’s an absolutely wonderful,

  • evocative sound, isn’t it? Beautiful sound. And what are they doing there then? That is

  • … I said talking to each other.

  • Dr Clarke: Well this is theirTheyre singing together. So a male and a female,

  • when they hold a territory together, will sing every morning what they call a duet.

  • All the groups

  • Interviewer: What we call a duet.

  • Dr Clarke: Yes, absolutely. And theyll all sing together at the same time, and the

  • whole forest will be alive with this cacophony of song.

  • So the gibbons make an evocative sound. If something is evocative it brings strong feelings

  • or memories to mind.

  • And something that is evocative is usually pleasant, Rob.

  • It is. And what’s also interesting is that the apes are singing in pairsone male

  • and one female. They are singing duets together. So a duet is a song sung by two peopleor

  • in this case, sung by two gibbons!

  • And a lot of gibbons are singing duets at the same timewhich Dr Clarke describes

  • as a cacophony. Cacophony means a mix of loud noises, which often sound out of tune.

  • And that could easily describe us singing together!

  • Let’s not do that.

  • But what’s the reason for the gibbon duets, Neil?

  • Well, the songs advertise the relationship between the male and the female. And they

  • also help to make clear which territoryor bit of landbelongs to a pair or group

  • of gibbons.

  • Gibbons also use different sounds to alertor warnother gibbons about danger

  • from predatorsthese are animals that eat other animals. The gibbons use a quiet

  • hoo hoocall to communicate that a leopard is nearby, and an even quieterhoo hoo

  • call for an eagle.

  • Youre very good at that Rob.

  • Thank you.

  • Now let’s hear more from Dr Clarke about this. How does she describe language?

  • Dr Esther Clarke, researcher at Durham University Yes, so the idea is that if we find things

  • like context-specific calling in non-human primates, it suggests that way back in time

  • the ancestor that we shared with them also had context-specific calling so basically

  • it just gives us some clues [as] to the evolutionary roots of complex communication like language.

  • Dr Clarke says that if we go far enough back in time humans and other primates such as

  • monkeys and apes have the same ancestor.

  • Right. And ancestor means an animalor humanfrom the past that a modern animal

  • or human has descended from. So if this common ancestor used context-specific calls like

  • modern gibbonsthen it could have passed on this ability to humans a long time ago.

  • Context-specific calling means different calls for different situations, for example one

  • call forleopardand another foreagle’.

  • And evolutionary means a gradual process of change or development.

  • OK, let’s have the answer to the quiz question. Earlier I asked: How far can a gibbon’s

  • voice travel through the forest? Is it: a) 500m b) 1km or c) 5km?

  • And I said b) 1km.

  • And you were right! A good guess! Perhaps you do know a lot about gibbons. So well done!

  • Now, can we hear today’s words again maybe in a gibbon's voice Neil?

  • I’m not sure about that. I’ll do it in a human voice.

  • primates

  • a close shave

  • screech

  • face-off

  • gibbons

  • evocative

  • duet

  • cacophony

  • territory

  • alert

  • predators

  • ancestor

  • evolutionary

  • Thank you. Well, that's the end of today's 6 Minute English. You can join us again soon.

  • Bye.

Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Rob

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B1 UK clarke km evocative ancestor dr duet

6 Minute Learning English From BBC - Why do gibbons sing duets?

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    LE! posted on 2017/04/01
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