Dwight Bollingers The Origin Of Language

Dwight BollingerS The Origin Of Language Essay Question I found Dwight Bollingers essay entitled The Origin of Language to be a very interesting work. I especially enjoyed the section about the chimpanzees. Although we know that animals can communicate with one another in their own way, they are limited by the barriers of fixity of reference and holophrasis. There is no way they could achieve syntax which means that most animals cannot achieve true language as we define it. It seems that the chimpanzees involved in the experiments which Bollinger writes about have come very close to possessing language.

Especially impressive is the chimp named Washoe and her sign language skills. She has managed to learn a complicated language and can communicate with her trainers. Sadly, Bollinger tells us that it requires such a great deal of time to train the chimps, that they age and die before they can acquire a more complete language system. I would like to know if the chimps in the experiments have ever attempted to teach non-trained chimps any of these skills. If these chimps were taken from the laboratory and allowed to return to their natural habitat, would they lose these skills that the teachers and trainers have worked so hard to instill? Are the chimps able to retain the skills without the constant reinforcement by the trainers? The answer to these questions would help me to decide whether these special chimps have language.

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As it stands now, with the information I have been given, I would have to conclude that they have a low level form of language but have not arrived at the standard for true language. Chimpanzees are not the only subjects which are being investigated. I have read that experiments have been going on for years involving the communication levels of dolphins. Science Essays.