July 15, 2017

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By Joel Wallman

This publication is a critique of the experiments of modern years that attempted to educate language to apes. The achievements of those animals are in comparison with the traditional improvement of language, either spoken and signed types, in childrens. it truly is argued that the apes in those experiences bought basically crude simulations of language instead of language itself and that there's no stable proof that apes can gather a language. A survey of the communique platforms of apes and monkeys in nature reveals that those platforms vary from language in profound ways--language is a uniquely human characteristic.

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Extra info for Aping Language

Example text

The beneficiaries of the work undertaken with Matata have turned out 24 History of the ape-language projects to be not her but her offspring, Kanzi, a male, and, to a lesser extent, Mulika, a female. Kanzi was born at the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center of Emory University in Atlanta in October 1980, Mulika in December 1983. At six months of age, Kanzi accompanied his mother Matata when she was moved to the Language Research Center, a joint operation of Georgia State University and the Yerkes Center, to commence her language training.

Tim: No apple which-is green. Lana: ? Tim give apple which-is orange. Tim: Yes. The "apple which-is orange" locution is thus preceded by several senseless and apparently random variations on it. It is also clear that Lana did not spontaneously decide to indicate a nameless entity by composing a referring expression using one of the item's attributes - the "color" motif of this discussion was created by the trainer, not by Lana. The skeptical description of Lana's output as rote strings of lexigrams with some random combining of strings is corroborated by a statistic mentioned in the Pate and Rumbaugh study (1983) of Lana's syntactic productivity, mentioned above.

On the other hand, the signs of American Sign Language are each made up of three or four formational components from a finite set, so that, to the extent that Washoe cognitively exploited the combinatorial make-up of signs (see chapter 5), the intended contrast between Lana's symbols as decomposable and Washoe's as irreducible wholes founders. The Lana experimenters' rather optimistic or, less charitably stated, superficial, assessment of Lana's achievements is not unexpected given the limited, at times crude, understanding of language that underlay it.

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