Human Language : Humans And Humans Essay

826 Words May 20th, 2015 4 Pages
Many people believe that language is a unique skill which only humans are able to acquire. Language is what distinguishes us from other animals and makes us human. However, there are people who disagree with this point of view. Some strongly believe that primates like chimpanzees and gorillas are capable of language too. A great amount of research regarding the ability of apes to learn language was done. It may be that the obtainment of language in apes could shed a light on the evolution of humans and the development of human language. The primates are mainly taught a sign language as they are not able to produce sound in the way humans do. A female gorilla called Koko was involved in one of the most far-reaching ape language experiments. The gorilla was taught the American Sign Language by Dr Francine Patterson, who dedicated her life to studying Koko. Dr Patterson claimed that the gorilla was capable of language (Hanly, 2004, pp. 14-17).
There are a number of criteria that differentiate human language from other communication systems. They are called design features of human language. Those are mode of communication, temporality, interchangeability, feedback, specialization, semanticity, arbitrariness, discreteness, displacement, productivity, cultural transmission, duality of patterning, prevarication, reflexiveness, and learnability. If all the characteristics listed above are present, a communication system can be considered language (Hockett, 2013, pp. 22-26). I will…

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