Chimp Talk

Chimp Talk

Streaming Video - 2006
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In this program, Paul Hoffman, editor of Discover magazine, explores the controversial issue of language use by apes with primatologist Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and Dr. Laura Ann Petitto. The results of Savage-Rumbaugh's 20-year study with chimpanzees reveal that they can use language with the astounding accuracy of a two-year-old human, which includes a rudimentary syntactical ability. However, Petitto's research indicates that humans have a cognitive predisposition for language lacking in chimps, which leads to the conclusion that although apes communicate by associating symbols with objects and actions, they do not have language abilities in the way that humans do. If the scientific community should eventually accept language use by apes, will the last scientific distinction between humans and animals be lost?

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