Ability Of Apes To Use Human Language Linguistics Assignment

1626 words - 7 pages

Table of contents:
1. Cover page
2. Table of contents
3. Introduction & What studies were conducted
4. Does this prove or disprove language abilities & Why some linguists believe this does or doesn’t show evidence of human language abilities.
5. Why some linguists believe this does or doesn’t show evidence of human language abilities & Conclusion
6. References
Human language abilities in apes
Pointing is a universal language to convey a message and acts as a substitute to spoken word. Infants’ point, a gesture which scientists agree is a form of word learning but when an ape points it’s questioned. Patrick M. Greenfield (1991) argues that language and use of tools conceal a cognitive basis that allows for “hierarchical structure” (1991). This possibly means that areas of the brain that help with language use and learning in humans beings could be shared with primates. There are many debates between linguists if it’s possible for apes to show human language abilities. This is why Kanzi the bonobo is important.
Studies conducted with Kanzi & Does this prove or disprove Kanzi’s language ability?
Kanzi was raised around apes that were being taught to use a computer keyboard. He watched his adoptive mother, Matata, use random symbols on a keyboard, each representing a word. Kanzi surprised researchers when he “asked” to be chased.
One of the researchers, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, added symbols to Kanzi’s keyboard and laminated papers. First Kanzi only used 6 symbols then 18 and later 348 symbols, which consisted of familiar objects, activities (chased, tickled) and abstract concepts. Kanzi learnt to join symbols in what linguists call “proto- grammar”. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh claims that Kanzi knows the meaning of 3000 English words and this was tested through someone being in another room, pronouncing words into a set of headphones Kanzi wore. Kanzi pointed to the asked symbols on his keyboard. He also responded to commands like “put soap in the water”.
Sue- Savage Rumbaugh and her colleagues tested a bonobo ability to express their thoughts vocally rather than pushing buttons. In the first experiment, Kanzi and his sister, Panbanisha, were put in different rooms. Kanzi was asked to communicate to Panbanisha that he would be given yogurt , “Kanzi vocalized, then Panbanisha vocalized in return and selected ‘yogurt’ on a keyboard in front of her” Sue-Savage Rumbaugh said in an interview. Kanzi uses smaller but similar words to make up words that aren’t on his keyboard, for example the word “flood” is not on his keyboard so he presses “big” “water” , this shows his in depth thinking and ability to communicate with different words.
Experiments to test Kanzi’s ability were done by researchers wearing masks and full body suits to avoid the indication that eye movement or body language is involved; it’s purely Kanzi’s abilities.
The experiments prove that Kanzi can communicate and has a level of understanding for human language. If Matata initiated an action, Ka...

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