Thursday, 8 May 2014

Low Rising Pitch

When a senior lorikeet is feeding and a junior lorikeet is watching, looking as if it might challenge for the food, the higher ranked bird will issue a medium-volume fricated sound with low-rising pitch as a warning to the youngster.

(It is very close to the gruff "Wait for it!" command of the Roman centurion in a scene of the film The Life Of Brian where the 'crucifixion party' is about to set off on their march to Calvary.)

Angry-sounding fricated sounds are generally used for vocally "pushing" other birds away, with sound volume proportional to the level of threat/anger/fear.

In English, the low-rising tone is often used with a mild command or negative command, which, as Halliday (2004: 141) says 'has the effect of leaving the decision to the listener'.

The lorikeet call can be compared to the human language situation where an older sibling says to the younger: "Just try it!", entailing "and see what happens!"


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