Signs of apes, songs…

Communication as window to mind!!

Dolphins & whales --complex sounds?

(JL) think about "complexity" -- essentially what does it take to describe the waveform? The idea that whale sounds are the "most complex" is silly, How many words would it take me to fully describe a whale waveform? A human speech waveform? I bet a lot more in the latter case.


Three referring expressions


"papa" and "cup" --very shaky voluntary control over vocalization

washoe taught ASL???

Four chimps taught 130 signs; not everyone convinced! Also compare (overhead graphic) with children who typically have a vocabulary "growth spurt" about 16 to 22 months going from 10 to 100 words produced (far less than understood). There's no teaching involved; just modeling the language being acquired. By 30 months, typical children have vocabularies of from 300 to 600 words (overhead) - far more than apes trained for years.

Similar data holds for length of utterances -- children increase length linearly with age -- a word a year for the first 4 o 5 years. Chimp utterances -- signs or symbols -- average two or less and are often repetitive "hurry hurry out".

Certainly communication -- but not ASL

Chantek the orangutan

Compared with human children??? Ho Ho Ho

Cognitive ability vs language level -- two year old human level or less in language.

"orangs known as tool users."???? In human environments..


Not much in the way of syntax -- instrumental use of gestures for food and pleasing trainers. Lots of vague imitation of gestures.

Note MLU effect here; Terrace's book Nim, has some good comparisons.


Lots of random key pressing .

Sherman and Austin

Among the more interesting research projects, showing functional communication with symbols regarding tool use

Clever Hans problems??

Possible problem -- even in testing children


Lou Herman's research (seen previously) uses 30 words combined to 1000 messages. Very similar to Fellow, maybe less vocabulary.

Grammar can be word order but it only a fraction of human grammar where grammar is hierarchical structuring of elements at all levels -- syllables, words, phrases, and sentences.

Sea lion -Rocky

Bad mouthing the ability of dogs! Nine objects and five actions -- even Daisy Limber can do this!

Sea mammal social and foraging behavior (35 minutes in)

(John Lilly )

Koko and Patterson -- how credible is all this???

Most dramatic use of language claimed -- supposed invention of signs? Most likely this is stimulus-response priming -- not uninteresting but not like lexicalization in human language where every word was invented to fill a need.

Over interpretation???

Very doubtful she uses 600 signs of ASL -- maybe a few hundred of GSL!! Even gorilla hands and forelimb movements seem slow and less fine tuned than the children in other videos (Language, Nicaraguan SL)