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Philosophy and Science of Language

Animals and language

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This article is about some forms of language found in animals.

Chimpanzees Edit

Chimpy

Species: Pan paniscus

Chimpanzees share 96% or 98% of our genome. They are the most similar animals to the Homo Sapiens. Scientists have tried to teach these animals a huge variety of behaviors.

  • They have trained them in the use of tools. For instance, there is a bunch of bananas hanging on a place where the chimpanzee cannot get by jumping. It is given a box and a log. It puts the box below the bunch, rides on it and uses the log to take the bananas.
  • Chimpanzees on natural environment use tools: They use primitive tools to eat termites and ants. They found a log full of them, they take parts of grass and little artifacts and they insert them into the log in such a way that they make them leave their home. When they try to attack the chimpanzee, they eat them all in a breeze.
  • AMESLAN: Ameslan is the sign language that most deaf-mute use to communicate. A simplified variety of this language was teached to the chimpanzees. They can communicate with it and transmit basic feelings and needs, like "I want banana, I love Maria" (the scientist) and things like that. That has showed that they are capable of abstraction and it is only a difference of quality compared to humans. They also use their cries and voices to communicate, although humans have not discovered their language. It is ironic that they can learn one of our languages (Ameslan) and we are not capable of learning theirs (cries). They use that language to transmit the position of things. For instance, two tribes of chimpanzees are fighting. One tribe kidnaps a chimpanzee. One of the rival chimpanzees find its friend and goes to his own tribe and communicates them of its location.
  • Gombe: Jane Goodall made some studies of chimpanzees on natural environments, like Gombe, Africa. She concluded that they have a social organization, very much like ours. They use a primitive form of monarchy: all of the chimpanzees on a zone obey the alpha male (the king). They feel love, hate, fear, etc.

Thus said, we are able to say that chimpanzees are capable of tool use and language. We differentiate from them not by the use of this, it is just a matter of quality.

Chimp

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