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In human languages, we have "sounds" (or words) to refer to animals. For example, in English, we denominate a dog using the vocal sound dɒɡ. So, from the perspective of dogs, if they knew that the sound dɒɡ refers to them, then they "could deduce" that a human emitting the following collection of sounds is referring to them:

lʊk, ðæt ɪz ə kjuːt dɒg. aɪ ˈwʌndə ˈwɛðər ɪt ɪz lɒst?

Now, what about the reverse? Do scientists know of a particular sound (or maybe a sign, a movement, or related form of communication) used by any animal which signifies "human"? In case the current answer is no, is this ever possible to know? Maybe for animals where studies are more advances, like primates?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by David, Remi.b, De Novo, another 'Homo sapien', Bryan Krause Aug 20 '18 at 22:03

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Downvoter(s), please comment. $\endgroup$ – luchonacho Aug 4 '18 at 21:16
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    $\begingroup$ The question assumes that animals (as a weirdly inclusive group) have a "word" to refer to humans. The vast majority of animals species do not use any specific signal to refer to humans. Very few species has the social intelligence needed to communicate about the the presence of individuals of a difference species and among them few have important enough direct relationship with humans to have do so. Some species make sound to indicate the presence of a flying vs terrestrial predators. If a human shows up, then the sound should be the one associated to terrestrial predator but ... $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Aug 4 '18 at 23:04
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    $\begingroup$ ... that would not qualify as a sound to refer to humans. Outside of eventually, a very small zoo population of some vertebrate species, I doubt there is any species that would have a term for "human". If you have any reason to think the opposite, can you please try to focus on this specific species for which you think individuals might vocalize (or signal in any way) to convey the concept of "human" to its congeners. Likely the only species that has a "word" for "humans" are humans! $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Aug 4 '18 at 23:04
  • $\begingroup$ The only other species that actually has what we would consider words are velvet monkeys who do not have much contact with humans. Some birds appear to have a nascent language, with something similar to words and sentences , the japanese great tit for instance but I have not seen a list of known words. nature.com/articles/ncomms10986 $\endgroup$ – John Aug 5 '18 at 4:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Remi.b "In case the current answer is no, is this ever possible to know?" Maybe you missed that bit. Why not translate your comment as an answer? $\endgroup$ – luchonacho Aug 5 '18 at 16:08
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The question seem to assume that animals (as a weirdly inclusive group) have a "word" to refer to humans. The vast majority of animals species do not use any specific signal to refer to humans. Very few species has the social intelligence needed to communicate about the the presence of individuals of a difference species and among them few have important enough direct relationship with humans to have do so.

Consider vervet monkeys as an example. Vervet monkeys make sounds to indicate the presence of a flying vs terrestrial predators. If a human shows up, then the sound should be the one associated to terrestrial predator but that would not qualify as a sound to refer to humans. See Seyfarth, R.M.; D.L Cheney; Peter Marler (1980). "Vervet Monkey Alarm Calls: Semantic communication in a Free-Ranging Primate". Animal Behaviour. 28 (4): 1070–1094. doi:10.1016/S0003-3472(80)80097-2

Outside of a very small zoo population of some vertebrate species, I doubt (but might be proven wrong, who knows?!) there is any species that would have a term for "human". If you have any reason to think the opposite, can you please try to focus on this specific species for which you think individuals might vocalize (or signal in any way) to convey the concept of "human" to its congeners. Likely the only species that has a "word" for "humans" are humans!

Do scientists know of a particular sound (or maybe a sign, a movement, or related form of communication) used by any animal which signifies "human"?

It is not a matter of knowing what sound they use. Excluding humans, animals likely don't use any sound to refer to the concept of "human".

In case the current answer is no, is this ever possible to know?

The answer is not "no, we don't know" but rather "there is nothing to be known here as animals just don't do that."

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    $\begingroup$ based on the work on japanese great tits some song birds use something similar to words, with combinations of sounds in specific orders, with different sequences having different meaning but we are pretty far form having a tit dictionary. $\endgroup$ – John Aug 5 '18 at 19:33
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If we look at how human infants develop language skills (this is anecdotal evidence, N = 3), the first “words” spoken are nouns. For example (in English), sounds that represent mama, cookie, or ball. Verbs seem to appear later on; in the beginning we want to describe the world around us.

For me, the idea of a non-human language, does not have a clear sense. In other words, we have no definitive evidence that any other species attempts to somehow “describe” the world they inhabit. That is not to say that other animal species are unable to communicate among themselves with scents, pheromones, sounds, calls, vocalizations, or tail slaps (I was thinking of the North American Beaver for that last reference), just that we currently have no way of telling, or determining, if they have nouns (in the human language linguistic sense of nouns).

Consider the North American Prairie Dog communities on the Great Plains, where one, or more, individuals appear to be posted as lookouts, ever vigilant, and whom send out an alarm call when a perceived danger approaches. It probably doesn’t really matter if the predator is a hawk, a fox, a wolf, a snake, or a human with a gun; the alert means something like “Run and hide unless you want to die, and bye-bye, it’s been nice knowing you, because I am drawing them away by making this sound.”

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