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The study of human biology and behaviour through other species has long been an important part of scientific research. The basic biological research on animals helps in understanding how living things work, and researchers use that understanding in applications for the benefit of both humans and animals. In the case of language study, teaching it to animals can provide insight into how humans acquire the skill, as well as help trace the origins of language from an evolutionary perspective. Besides, just because a species doesn’t have a complex communication system in the wild in the way that human beings do, doesn’t necessarily prove that they are incapable of using one. This paper attempts to discuss the research done in this area, particularly in relation to chimpanzees as well as evaluate the validity and importance of carrying out such work.

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Almost every living species across the planet has its own way of communication indigenous to their own species. Despite the variety the animal kingdom has to offer in this regard, these methods are not as complex as human language, in its ability to express the subtleties of meaning. So for the purposes of this paper, we must make a distinction between communication and language. 
Animal communication is “the transmission of a signal from one animal to another such that the sender benefits, on average, from the response of the recipient”. (Slater 1983) Language on the other hand can be described as a vehicle of communication. In order to contrast human language with animal communication, we use a check list for features that all human languages possess including duality of pattern, productivity, arbitrariness, interchangeability, specialization, displacement, and cultural transmission.  No animal form of communication fulfils all of these criteria. Hockett (1960).

Much of the work done in this field of research into animal language has been carried out with primates. This is due to the fact that they are the closest living relative to human beings in the animal kingdom, hence they serve as good subjects to test language acquisition, due to shared genetic material. 

Furthermore, primates such as chimpanzees are highly intelligent, and members of this species might be intelligent enough for such purposes of experimentation. For example, in the case of the Washoe experiment, the experimenters chose a chimpanzee as the subject not just because of its intelligence, but because of the trait of sociability, which also includes the ability to form emotional attachment to human beings. They deem it “highly likely” that sociability is essential for language development in human beings. 

The earliest attempts made by human beings, between the 1900s and 1930s, to teach vocal language to animals did not work out as planned. However, in the 1960s, researchers began to use non-vocal communication in order to communicate with apes. They tried to teach individual signs derived from American Sign Language (ASL) to Washoe, a chimpanzee; Koko, a gorilla; and Chantek, an orangutan. Another chimpanzee named Sarah, learned how to manipulate arbitrary plastic symbols that stood for words. Another famous project involved Lana, a chimpanzee, who was taught to use an early computer keyboard, with arbitrary symbols the researchers called lexigrams. Other animals
One of the first attempts to teach language to primates comes from Allen and Beatrice Gardner, who fostered Washoe, a chimpanzee, who was brought from West Africa to Nevada where she eventually learned over 350 words in the American Sign Language. It is worth noting that she was taught exclusively in ASL, and the Garnders actively avoided using vocal English in her presence. The rationale for this was that the vocal communications of apes was too closely tied to their emotional state. Also, their vocalizations seemed unsuitable for human language. They also believed that ASL and the spoken English language could not be taught at the same time, due to syntactical and grammatical differences. They argue that, “Attempting to speak good English while simultaneously signing good ASL is about as difficult as attempting to speak good English while simultaneously writing good Russian.” Furthermore, they realised that since deaf human children used sign language, they could study the speed at which the chimpanzees acquired the new language, in comparison to the way human children do. The introduction of sign language to their endeavours enhanced the project drastically. In about 51 months, Washoe had learned how to sign over 130 signs. 
The Gardners used a combination of methods to teach Washoe. One of those methods was imitation. They note that for the chimpanzee, visual stimuli were the most effective for imitation. Things which are seen tend to reproduced. What is heard is not reproduced. They write, “Imitation may be very important in the acquisition of language by human children, and many of our procedures with Washoe were devised to capitalize on it.” They also used babbling, where she expressed her wants through signs not previously taught to her. Instrumental conditioning strategies also proved effective. For example, Washoe learned the word ‘more’, when tickling was used as positive reinforcement. 
The Washoe case turned out to be successful, as she learned spontaneous naming, generalisation of terms to fit non-specific stimuli, as well as spontaneous combinations and recombinations of signs in an original way. 

Generalisation? Reliability ? Validity? Case study? Element of fatigue? Language as an abstract topic, subjective differences, modern? Or postmodern? Reflect is it good? 
Much of the research in the 1960s and 1970s on teaching language to chimpanzees and other primates did not involve usage of vocal cues and symbols. They were led to believe that they might not possess the neuromuscular equipment necessary to perform patterned speech in the way humans do. In fact, they state, “Vocalisation is highly resistant to modification in this otherwise highly educable species.” (Gardner and Gardner, 1971). Given that most research indicates that chimpanzees have little to no control over what sounds they make in different situations, and that their vocalisations are mostly innate, a recent study has shown that they could acquire use of  ‘attention getting’ sounds through operant conditioning as well as generalise their newly acquired skills to the correct context in order to communicate effectively. ( name, date)
This experiment involved 76 chimpanzees (52 male, 24 female) from the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. The experimenter acquired the attention of the chimpanzee, and then stood at a 45 degree angle, facing away from them, holding food, in a series of six 30 second trials. At the end of these trials, it was found that 44 subjects did not produce any attention getting sounds. Out of these 44, 14 were selected to undergo positive reinforcement training to get them to produce the sounds, continuing until they were able to produce the sounds within 10 consecutive sessions. 9 out the 14 were successful in this endeavour. 
They key findings this project presents is that the use of operant conditioning can teach chimpanzees the use of new communicative signals. Furthermore, chimpanzees not only possess the capacity for vocal learning but are also able to use their learning in appropriate communicative contexts.
While the project here provides useful insight into the vocal aspect of teaching animals language, one calls into question whether these results can be replicated and generalised to a larger population of chimpanzees and perhaps other primates, given that all the participants in this experiment were in captivity. Although the researchers found a link between the innate capacity to produce attention seeking sounds and whether the mother the individual was raised by made the sounds or not, they speculated that those raised in the nursery that did make the sound probably acquired it through social learning, i.e. from their peers in the way the others had learnt from their mothers. Besides, the final sample selected for the training in vocalisation had the individuals with a larger propensity to interact with human beings, hence raising the possibility of a certain experimenter bias. Nevertheless, the research here proves that chimpanzees can indeed acquire vocal communicative skills given the right training, but the results need to be verified and replicated in other settings to make it more generally applicable.