Language and its relation with apes
Language and its relation with apes
When we talk about language it means the language that we use for communication. Humans have used different types of language in past for communication and the language that we speak today has been eventually achieved after lots of changes. It has been said that using language for communication has differentiated humans from other animals on this earth. Talking about language includes sign language, spoken language and other languages used for communication.
Language should be differentiated with speech because speech involves production of sound from the voice box whereas anguage means a way commonly used for communication and to express one with each other in society. All animals use some form of communication or other but researchers don’t classify it as language. But it has been seen that some of the animals like dolphins, apes, chimpanzees etc. can communicate using the language used by humans. Dolphins are even found calling each other by names.
As far as apes are concerned great ape language has even evolved by the researchers while teaching gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees. It is seen that they communicate with each other using sign language or physical tokens. These usages of different types of tools to communicate indicate their ability to use language. When we go back into the past we find that in the beginning the language was not related to speech and can be said to be a type of sign language.
Many researchers have made studies and have come to the conclusion that apes can understand sign language and can easily communicate with humans if trained to do so. A chimpanzee was caught in the wild and was named Washoe. When she was ten months old, she was handed over to a husband and wife involved with the researcher’s team. It is a fact that chimpanzees are fully dependent till two years of age and semi dependent up to four years of age. They made the environment like a deaf parent would make for their child and then started experiment on Washoe.
There was at least one of the researchers with her when she was awake and tried a lot of techniques in order to teach her sign language and how to communicate with humans. Before project Washoe, attempts to teach animals the voice language had failed so the researchers tried to teach her the American Sign language in which they succeeded to a far extent. While teaching Washoe, when she used to learn any language properly she was rewarded so that it encouraged her and initially she was even taught to bring her hands together and touch her fingertips.
Then the couple started teaching her to be more precise with her hands’ movements. In the first couple of years the couple were not sure whether she was really catching the language or not because sometimes she did not react to that but when she was shown the object she would make the correct sign for that. It was also seen that some of the things she used to name in her own way and continuously did the same. This also shows that chimpanzees applied their own wish and brain and not just copied what they were taught.
It was concluded by the researchers that when humans started to communicate with the help of speech, their vocal tract developed and it eventually brought changes in the human brain too. The language that we use today to communicate can be found back 200,000 years ago where we find similarities in the language. But it was almost 50,000 years back from when sophistication of language started. The first step must have been the use of grammar in the language and the basis of today’s language must have eveloped. But it is still a matter of debate whether it developed gradually or suddenly because researchers have no proof for any of the two.
Language is said to be unique human quality and researchers have found evidence that suggests that a sudden change took place somewhere in Africa around 50,000 years back. This brought some changes in human brain and some of the scientists have concluded that a group of Africans left and proceeded to colonize other parts of the world. This way similar language pattern spread and is now found in most parts of the world. There are ome researchers who believe that the language of today has eventually been achieved and has gone through different stages and the modern linguistics must have evolved since late eighteenth century.
It depends upon the circumstances and surroundings and it has been proved by the researchers that chimpanzees when kept in supporting environment can learn and communicate in sign language with humans. The richness of our language for communication is considered as distinctive achievement because it provides us with the ways to express our feelings and emotions to others. Each and every achievement of umans can be credited to language because without it nothing could have been possible in the field of science and technology, philosophy, art and culture or any of the fields.
There is language diversity found in this world and even market of language technology is also growing. Language has helped a lot in expanding different types of businesses throughout the world. Exchange of ideas and views become very important when it comes to business or any field that is concerned with the whole world. The use of computer and Internet has also brought the whole world quite close and even the diversity f languages can be bridged with the help of latest technology.
Translations are done with the help of software and although they are less accurate than the work done by humans, they are cheap and easily accessible. It can almost be considered as revolution and this has been spreading widely through the help of computer. Initially language was thought to be a unique human quality and that must be because it gave every human to articulate and communicate easily with each other. Understand each other in a better way, which was a great achievement for humans and this helped them to ravel and know about different cultures and livings.
Language is the base of all the developments and achievements in this world. If there were no collectiveness due to common language, there would have been nothing possible. All the developments either technical or in the art world are seen and enjoyed today just because a group of people were able to communicate and discuss on some point and then after a lot of studies and experiments were able to reach where we are today. Communication has also helped to pass on the ideas of one generation to other and in this way development has eventually eached and is further heading in future.
The most important thing needed for communication is language as it is the base and without which it would have not been possible to communicate. It happens at many levels and in various ways but need of language is must. Language becomes the means that helps to communicate within the working team and thus helps achieve targets and success. Man is a social animal and he needs to communicate in order to remain attached to the society and every member of the society has his or her share in its development. Many scholars have given instances and tried to explain the importance of communication and its relation with language.
Just to prove the significance of language there had been so many projects to teach languages to animals and men have succeeded in it. Some of the animals can understand and communicate in sign languages if taught in perfect age like chimpanzees and some can even speak too like parrots if taught at an early age can communicate with vocal expressions. Dolphins are found to call each other by names and they also communicate with their human companions and understand their instructions. Dolphins are found to respond to music too.
Language is an organized form of communication, which can be conveyed through voice, signals, and gestures or written symbols. But just communication or its ways are not considered as language and this is the reason why the communication of animals is not considered as language. Humans speak and write language as a system of symbols and grammars or rules with the help of which the symbols are manipulated. Most of humans use sounds or gestures as communication tools and language is considered to be exclusively as mode of communication for humans only.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 24 December 2016
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