Chimpanzee language claims lost in translation, researchers conclude
Unbelievably, some researchers tried examining one these claims instead of just accepting it and pontificating about it.
The scholarship in question, published in the journal Current Biology in February, centered on the examination of two sets of chimpanzees in the Edinburgh Zoo: one that had been captive for several years in the facility and one that had recently arrived from the Beekse Bergen Safari Park in the Netherlands. Over a three-year period, the researchers claimed that the latter set had altered their sounds to those of the former set when communicating about a common object, apples, resulting in what they saw as a newly shared vocalization.
But a review of the Current Biology study by researchers at the German Primate Center in Göttingen, the University of Kent, and New York University, suggests these conclusions are off-base.
“There are a number of problems with the original study,” observes James Higham, an assistant professor in NYU’s Department of Anthropology and a co-author of the new analysis, which also appears in Current Biology. “Some of these relate to the methods used while others are fundamentally a misrepresentation of what the data actually show.”
What? It matters? Maybe one day, they’ll be doing science again, instead of PR for naturalism.
“Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that the original study tells us much new about the evolution of language,” notes Fischer, a professor of cognitive ethology. More.
Not to worry, prof. You’re way ahead if you’ve decided to go beyond the makings of a pop science article.
Human language is bound up with human consciousness. The evolution of human language cannot be considered apart from it. The problem for the chimp or the kitty cat is not the technicalities; it’s what they don’t have to say.
See also: Can we talk? Language as the business end of consciousness
See also: The tale of Nim Chimpsky
Follow UD News at Twitter!