Do Animals Have Language?
Two sources of evidence supporting the viewpoint that animals have the capacity for language: Many scientists have experimented with animals, to prove that they do have the capacity to communicate. For example, Beatrice and Allen Gardner trained a chimpanzee named Washoe to use about one hundred and sixty signs, including signs for “apple,” “tickle,” “flower,” and “more.” Washoe even learned to combine signs into simple phrasese, such as “more fruit” and “gimme flower.” Another example, that proved animals have the capacity to communicate was Kanzi, a male chimpanzee, whose mother had been trained to communicate by pushing geometric symbols into a keyboard, but Kanzi had received no special training himself. However, he was present at his mother's training sessions, and at the age of two and a half, he stunned his trainers when he began manipulating symbols on the keyboard to ask for a fruit. Kanzi was able to put the symbols in the appropiate order to reflect changes in actions.
Two sources of evidence challenging the viewpoint that animals have the capacity for language are: One example that shows how animals do not have the capacity to communicate was by Jane Goodall, who raised a chimp named Lucy. After a while of training, she returned Lucy to Africa. She was able to sign, “Please help, out,” but Goodall does not consider this conclusive that the chimpanzee can use language in spontaneous communication, as all humans do. She believes the ability to communicate, separated from events, is the major distinction between humans and apes. Another example that proved how animals can't communicate was in April 1998. Koko, a female gorilla participated in the first human-simian “chat” on the internet. Koko had been trained to use American Sign Language. However, it didn't go quite as planned. Koko seemed more interested in interacting with her trainer than in responding to questions. Identify the side you find more convincing and...
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