It does not follow from their lack of speech, however, that chimpanzees are incapable of language, this is, a human-like…

  • 1. It does not follow from their lack of speech, however, that chimpanzees are incapable of language, this is, a human-like grammar. Perhaps they can acquire grammar and speak if they could only use grammar some way other than with a voice.
  • 2. All of these animals were taught to sign in order to get food, tickling, grooming, and toys and to get out of their cages. The question, then, is whether chimpanzee and gorilla signing is language; is it based on grammatical rules?
  • 3. The obvious alternative is sign language. All primates have extremely dexterous hands and sign language is a language. You have probably already read about the regular chimpanzees Washoe and Nim Chimpsky, and the lowland gorilla, Koko, all of whom learned to sign and interact very naturally with their trainers.
  • 4. A simple way to disprove this Innateness Hypothesis, as linguists call it, is to demonstrate that other species have the capacity to speak but for some reason simply have not developed speech. A logical candidate for such a species is the chimpanzee, which shares 98.4% of the human genetic code.
  • 5. Chimpanzees cannot speak because, unlike humans, their vocal cords are located higher in their throats and cannot be controlled as well as human vocal cords.
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