Primate Experiments In Human Language

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“Do you want a treat?” “Do you want to go for a walk?” “Let’s go for a ride!” Those of us with animal companions all know these phrases because they are spoken very often. The animals may bark, or purr, or tilt their head. We seem to witness this almost every day, but we seldom think about the meaning behind their actions. It begs the question, could animals learn to speak human languages if they wanted? The way that we speak about animal language is drastically different than how philosophers in antiquity did. Many primate experiments, like Washoe the chimpanzee, Koko the gorilla, and The Lana Project, have proved to combat the way of thinking of ancient philosophers, like Empedocles and Protagoras. Before the three experiments and the views…show more content…
Eventually, Lana could use names, identify unnamed objects and request unnamed and non-present objects. She could identify objects by name and color, and performed basic math skills using “Froot Loops” cereal pieces. Based on Lana’s improvement, the creators and scientists behind this project concluded that, “cognitive prerequisites of language are not uniquely human,” although chimpanzees lack “sufficient intelligence to formulate and concatenate, rapidly and spontaneously, unlimited arbitrary symbols.” Their assertion that the “ability to separate events from representation is the fundamental element of language” is the untested assumption and conclusion of the Lana project (Dolan). Many critics of the experiments believe that the projects were not as conclusive as was portrayed. One could argue that Koko, Washoe and Lana were exceptionally intelligent primates and admittedly, maybe not all primates would have the same learning abilities as them. It is said that Koko and Lana were simply imitating, not learning. Even if that is true, it does not change the fact that the opinions of the two philosophers mentioned above were shown to be incorrect. These primates did learn both reason and a form of speech…show more content…
Not just any birds, but certain parrots to be exact. Many people have witnessed a parrot imitating what their owners say. While it is usually comical phrases, it probably is not a form of superior linguistics. I would argue that while animals such as primates actually and intentionally learn human language but cannot speak it, parrots and birds of the sort can speak human language but do not learn it. They simply imitate the sounds that they have heard. For example, a parrot is most likely not born with the instinct to say, “hello, how was your day?” Rather, they hear phrases such as these often around their home, so they repeat it. One would most likely not see a wild parrot in the jungle saying, “how was your
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