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Apes and Language

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Short title and page number for student papers.

Apes and Language: A Review of the Literature

Full title, writer’s name, name and section number of course, instructor’s name, and date (all centered).

Karen Shaw

Psychology 110, Section 2 Professor Verdi March 2, XXXX

Source: Diana Hacker (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004).

Apes and Language

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Full title, centered.

Apes and Language: A Review of the Literature Over the past 30 years, researchers have demonstrated that the great apes (chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans) resemble humans in language abilities more than had been thought possible. Just how far that resemblance extends, however, has been a matter of some controversy. Researchers agree that the apes have acquired fairly large vocabularies in American Sign Language and in artificial languages, but they have drawn quite different conclusions in addressing the following questions:

The writer sets up her organization in her thesis.

1. How spontaneously have apes used language? 2. How creatively have apes used language? 3. Can apes create sentences? 4. What are the implications of the ape language studies? This review of the literature on apes and language focuses on these four questions.

Headings, centered, help readers follow the organization.

How Spontaneously Have Apes Used Language? In an influential article, Terrace, Petitto, Sanders, and Bever

A signal phrase names all four authors and gives date in parentheses.

(1979) argued that the apes in language experiments were not using language spontaneously but were merely imitating their trainers, responding to conscious or unconscious cues. Terrace and his colleagues at Columbia University had trained a chimpanzee, Nim, in American Sign Language, so their skepticism about the apes’ abilities received much attention. In fact, funding for ape language research was sharply reduced following publication of their 1979 article “Can an Ape Create a Sentence?”

Source: Diana Hacker (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004).

Apes and Language

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In retrospect, the conclusions of Terrace et al. seem to have been premature. Although some early ape language studies had not been rigorously controlled to eliminate cuing, even as early as the 1970s R. A. Gardner and B. T. Gardner were conducting double-blind experiments that prevented any possibility of cuing (Fouts, 1997, p. 99). Since 1979, researchers have diligently guarded against cuing. Perhaps the best evidence that apes are not merely responding to cues is that they have signed to one another spontaneously, without trainers present. Like many of the apes studied, gorillas Koko and Michael have been observed signing to one another (Patterson & Linden, 1981). At Central Washington University the baby chimpanzee Loulis, placed in the care of the signing chimpanzee Washoe, mastered nearly fifty signs in American Sign Language without help from humans. “Interestingly,” wrote researcher Fouts (1997), “Loulis did not pick up any of the seven signs that we [humans] used around him. He learned only from Washoe and [another chimp] Ally” (p. 244). The extent to which chimpanzees spontaneously use language may depend on their training. Terrace trained Nim using the behaviorist technique of operant conditioning, so it is not surprising that many of Nim’s signs were cued. Many other researchers have used a conversational approach that parallels the process by which human children acquire language. In an experimental study, O’Sullivan and Yeager (1989) contrasted the two techniques, using Terrace’s Nim as their subject. They found that Nim’s use of The word “and” links the names of two authors in the signal phrase. Brackets indicate words not in original source. A page number is required for a quotation. An ampersand links the names of two authors in parentheses. Because the author (Fouts) is not named in the signal phrase, his...
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