Recent attempts to teach apes rudimentary grammatical skills have produced negative results. The basic obstacle appears to be at the level of the individual symbol which, for apes, functions only as a demand. Evidence is lacking that apes can use symbols as names, that is, as a means of simply transmitting information. Even though non-human animals lack linguistic competence, much evidence has recently accumulated that a variety of animals can represent particular features of their environment. What then is the non-verbal nature of animal representations? This question will be discussed with reference to the following findings of studies of serial learning by pigeons. While learning to produce a particular sequence of four elements (colours), pigeons also acquire knowledge about the relation between non-adjacent elements and about the ordinal position of a particular element. Learning to produce a particular sequence also facilitates the discrimination of that sequence from other sequences.