From Andy Coghlan at New Scientist:
“No one can say now that there’s a vocal anatomy problem with monkey speech,” says Asif Ghazanfar at Princeton University, and co-leader of the study team. “They have a speech-ready vocal anatomy, but not a speech-ready brain. Now we need to find out why the human but not the monkey brain can produce language.”
“They have gathered the type of data that confirms that monkey vocal tracts are speech-ready,” says Adriano Lameira at Durham University in the UK, who recently showed that an orangutan called Rocky could mimic human speech.
And Philip Lieberman at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, says: “I’ve pointed out for decades that monkeys could talk, with reduced intelligibility, if their brains could learn and execute the motor acts involved in speech.” More.
But isn’t the point that the monkey doesn’t have the neural wiring because it has nothing to say that would require a human language? How would one go about fixing a problem like that? Is it even a problem?
As pointed out here before, if a dog had a syrinx like a parrot, he could tell us he needs to go outside. But that’s it. He isn’t going on to ask, “How’s the new car treating you?”
Actually, it is unusual for New Scientist to be this level-headed. We thought their writer would announce, based on a casuistical experiment, that monkeys have different schools of philosophical thought …
See also: Study: Humans are the only primates that show kindness? One can quibble over whether chimps are “kind,” using any definition that gets the pop science ink, but if chimpanzees cannot abstract, they just aren’t doing what humans mean by kindness.
Humans “not special” because some monkeys can flake tools?
Paignton Zoo monkeys produce Notes to Shakespeare ‘s works
Furry, feathery, and finny animals speak their minds
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