Monkey Tuesday!

cue the theme music

From NPR, a fascinating story about a bonobo that seems to have linguistic skills far beyond any other non-human in history. From the story:

Savage-Rumbaugh made a decision; She would stop trying to teach words and sentences to apes. She would give Kanzi a reason to talk, and something to talk about.

“What I had to do is come up with an environment,” she says, “a world that would foster the acquisition of these lexical symbols in Kanzi and a greater understanding of spoken human language.”

Before long, Kanzi was doing many of the things humans do with language. He was talking about places and objects that weren’t in sight. He was referring to the past and the future. And he was understanding new sentences made up of familiar words.


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