Language Use among Apes

Audio-Visual Archival Documentaries for Ape Language and Cognition

Authored by: Ken Schweller

Handbook on Evolution and Society

Print publication date:  January  2015
Online publication date:  November  2015

Print ISBN: 9781612058146
eBook ISBN: 9781315634203
Adobe ISBN: 9781317258339


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The online resources listed in this chapter document Duane Rumbaugh's careerlong work with apes and provide a more detailed look into the experiments and findings underlying his salience theory of learning and behavior. I have chosen to comment specifically on those aspects of Rumbaugh's work that shed light on the evolution of language, as this has always been one of the most difficult unresolved problems for evolutionary biologists. How can it be that nearly all humans effortlessly acquire language, whereas few, if any, animals seem able to acquire even the rudiments? If language is simply learned behavior, why is it so seemingly difficult for our closest relatives, the chimpanzees and bonobos, to acquire it?

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