Animals and language: how monkeys and chimpanzees are taught to speak

Since the appearance of man on Earth, the question of whether animals can speak has remained one of the most interesting and mysterious. Scientists around the world have conducted many experiments trying to teach animals to pronounce words and use sign language. However, after several unsuccessful attempts, the scientists decided to try a slightly different way.

In 1971, American scientist David Premack taught a monkey named Sarah how to communicate using magnetic cards. She learned to associate symbols with objects and actions, and then began to learn how to make sentences in a playful way. Sarah showed incredible abilities and even began to show something with symbols and explain what exactly she wants and what offers she likes best.

In 1973, a group of American scientists created a language system consisting of lexigrams, each of which corresponds to a specific word. The chimpanzee Lana got involved in the experiment, and within a year she could “tell” the machine to turn on a movie, open a window, give her something to drink or eat, and memorize 60 lexemes and basic rules of grammar and syntax.

However, despite the advances, animals are still limited in their ability to learn language. If the chimpanzee Lana could build hundreds of sentences of the same type, then the male bonobo Kanzi learned about 3 thousand signs and regarded learning as a game.

As scientists note, animals can learn language and show incredible abilities, but their capabilities are limited. As the proverb says: “Each animal is wise in its measure.”

Interestingly, some scientists believe that animals can not only learn language, but also use it to communicate with humans. As psychology professor Susan Philips points out:

“We need to stop thinking of animals as non-thinking creatures and start seeing them as social partners who are capable of communication.”

However, the question of whether animals can speak remains open and requires further research. But one thing is for sure: animals have incredible abilities that we don’t fully understand yet.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x