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Miles, H. L. (1983) Apes and language: The search for communicative
competence. In Language in Primates: Perspectives and Implications,
J. De Luce & H. T. Wilder (eds.). Springer-Verlag, New York. pp 43-61.
Author of the summary: Jim Davies, 1998, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cite this paper for:
p44: There has been a criticism that apes are not signing at all, but
are merely responding with motions to trainer cues. There are several
reasons not to believe this is happening.
- agruments against cued motions attack on ape signing (p43)
- "Chantek" is Malaysian for "beautiful." (p47)
- Even When the care giver did nothing, Chantek made a sign every 27 seconds. (p56)
- Problems with the Nim Chimpsky project.
You shouldn't worry about whether apes can use language as a black and
white issue. There are some things they can do, and some things they can't,
and this is where the interesting reserach lies.
- Apes identify objecs in double blind tests
- Some apes attempt to sign when non-signing humans are around
(that is, humans who don't know sign language and could not
- The signs are too complex for this to happen.
- testing with absolutely no cues may be impossible, and even
2 year old children may fail on such a test if it were given.
p47. "Chantek" is Malaysian for "beautiful."
p 53 Chantek's long utterances have not been checked for grammar.
Even When the care giver did nothing, Chantek made a sign every 27 seconds.
problems with the Nim Chimpsky project (which argues against ape language use):
p59: The failure of Nim should is a failure of one training method,
not the failure of apes in general.
- p58: Nim was often taught signs without the referent present (for fear
that the referent would be distracting)
- p57: All language training was done in a concrete room that Nim
appeared to be scared of.
- p56: Nim had 60 teachers, too many for a rapport.
- p57: Nobody on the project had previous experience handling apes
- p57: Nim was taught at first with a method used on retarded people,
which actually extinguished signing behavior.
Summary author's notes:
- Facts repeated in other of Miles' papers' summaries are excluded
from this outline.
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