Reflection 10

1250 11 April Reflection: Kanzi is a very popular male bonobo or chimpanzee who has beenextensively featured in myriad research studies done on linguistic aptitude in apes. Among many other researchers who have made contributions to demonstrating linguistic aptitude in apes, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh stands distinguished in respect that she dedicated her whole life to studying Kanzi. The main argument put forth by Savage-Rumbaugh is that Kanzi’s advanced linguistic aptitude denounces all such ideas which are skeptical of the ape language project. Among many critics of Kanzi project is Wynne who argues that advanced language aptitude is something which is possessed by humans alone and the decisive factor which differentiates humans from apes. The kind of linguistic abilities exhibited by Kanzi are only the result of his imitations, so the very idea of ape language synonyms with parroting. Savage-Rumbaugh, on the other hand, defends her argument in favor of Kanzi and ape language by claiming that the linguistic achievements of her subject, Kanzi, are a living proof that apes can also learn a human language. This idea that language and many other unique cognitive abilities are uniquely possessed by humans is groundless and prejudiced. One important reason why Savage-Rumbaugh’s research on Kanzi cannot be equated to parroting is that Kanzi did not develop his linguistic capacities through rote learning or behaviorist methods. Rather, his learning began from a very young age when he was younger. This young age is a very critical period for learning language for both ape and human babies. Like human babies, Kanzi’s responses also reflect same tendencies.