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To report on the language acquisition of Kanzi, a bonobo chimp (pygmy chimpanzee), and his younger sister Mulika.
The report covers a 17-month period, beginning when Kanzi was aged 2 ½ years.
To compare language acquisition in the bonobos with that of two common chimpanzees, Sherman and Austin, studied earlier (1975-1980).
Kanzi – a bonobo chimp ( Pan paniscus ) Sherman & Austin – common chimps ( Pan troglodytes ) AIM:
Kanzi – born in captivity in US (1980) His mother was Matata , a wild- captured bonobo, who was the actual intended subject for the language study Matata was not Kanzi’s biological mother. She had kidnapped him from his mother, Lorel , when he was just a few hours old In 1983, Matata gave birth to Mulika , the second bonobo subject in this research She grew up as Kanzi’s sister PARTICIPANTS / SUBJECTS:
Bonobos can understand spoken English whereas common chimps cannot
“ Which one is the tomato Kanzi, show me tomato” Primate Number correct / total Matching symbol to English Matching photo to English Matching photo to symbol K 65/66 56/59 55/59 M 41/42 36/41 41/42 A Not tested 3/30 30/30 S Not tested 2/30 30/30
K and M (bonobos / pygmy chimps) were different from common chimps. Their results were significantly better compared to the first research subjects.
They were spoken to normally which allowed them to learn language and respond without contextual cues. This was suggested to be down to the lack of training and the power of nurture and Cultural learning .
2. The beginning of syntax had been learned by M and K. (rules of sentences). They were able to direct others (request a to act on b)
3. It appears that language of some sort can be learned without being hard wired (agrees with argument that language is learned rather than being innate)
A vast amount of data collected – allows for easy comparisons with previous subjects.
However, validity of data relies on the validity of the tests, which do not allow for comments on and observations of behaviours that may have occurred during the tests (REDUCTIONIST – means data does not allow for more detailed evidence to be recorded)