A Gorilla as a New Friend to Talk to

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Ariel Rice
James-Franco-1.jpg The chapter I was given to look over involved the many different aspects of language. The topics discussed were how language came to be, what it involves, how babies learn a language and many others. It also went into discussing thinking and reasoning, like how we accomplish our goals and the inner workings of our mind. But the topics I found most interesting involved teaching human language to nonhuman animals. I had recently watched the movie The Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It involved a very smart chimpanzee that learned to sign, even though this was a fictional movie I became interested in knowing if it is possible to teach chimpanzees or any other apes to sign. This section in this chapter was able to help me understand that it is very difficult to teach any animal to learn our language. When teaching a chimpanzee the human language, researchers realized that chimpanzees aren't able to master syntactic rules, which is how words are combined to create meaning. They were only able to communicate requests of food or other activities but not to combine words into sentences like it was seen in Planet of the Apes. In the movie the chimpanzee was able to communicate short, but meaningful sentences to the main character. However, there are two different species that are able to learn the language even better. One of the species is the Bonobo, which is even more genetically alike to humans. Unlike chimpanzees they learn through observation and can use symbols to comment in interactions rather than just to receive a treat. The other animal is the African gray parrot, as many people know they are able to mimic words and noises that they hear. However, they can go beyond that. They are able to create combinations words that are meaningful and also master syntactic rules of language. However, they learn through repetition rather than interacting in the world. Language is very complex and has evolved over time and is one of the best ways to communicate complex ideas and thoughts to one another.
Check out this video of a gorilla named Koko who uses sign language to communicate with people. She is learning how to sign butterfly in this video! www.youtube.com:watch?v=U64k_fA2Rcc.webloc

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Good first entry! I'm glad to see you taking a concept from the book and applying it to something relevant outside of psychology. Hollywood doesn't always get things right!

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This page contains a single entry by ricex508 published on January 19, 2012 9:32 PM.

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