Ant_102_Lecture_03_2011 - Intentional? Mostly NO some...

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Intentional? Referential? Mostly NO – some intentional gestures in non-human primates. NO YES – though humans also communicate in non-intentional ways, e.g. sweating, panting, “owh!” etc. . YES – e.g. showing, pointing, referential words. Though they also communicate in non- referential ways as well, e.g. Bowing, “Hello” etc. .
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REVIEW Intentional vs. non- intentional Referential vs. non- referential
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Today : no new distinctions
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Today: we will use the distinctions we already have to answer the following question:
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What distinguishes human communication from that of the other great apes?
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The “other” great apes?
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Humans are apes! “The Hominidae (also known as great apes) form a taxonomic family, including four extant genera: chimpanzees (Pan), gorillas (Gorilla), humans (Homo), and orangutans (Pongo).”
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Chimpanzee Bonobo Chimps and Bonobos are our closest relatives.
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For many years scientists have attempted to understand what makes humans distinctive from other apes.
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LANGUAGE?
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Obviously no other ape has language but many scientists have tried to show that chimps, bonobos and gorillas are capable of learning human languages.
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Some famous attempts include Washoe
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Some famous attempts include Washoe, Nim Chimpsky,
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Some famous attempts include Washoe, Nim Chimpsky, Kanzi
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Some famous attempts include Washoe, Nim Chimpsky, Kanzi and Koko.
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The evidence was inconclusive .
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* Chimps and other apes could , with significant training, produce combinations of signs. * Looks like a rudimentary syntax.
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Washoe - “You me time eat?”
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If you see syntax, productivity and creativity as the key properties of human language, then does this count? This is Hockett’s “productivity.”
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Chomsky defines language as "the capacity to generate an infinite range of expressions from a finite set of elements.”
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The generativists (linguists who follow Chomsky) strongly believe that language is uniquely human and also that differences between humans and other animals are qualitative not quantitative.
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In Language and Mind , Chomsky wrote: “There seems to be no substance to the view that human language is simply a more complex instance of something to be found elsewhere in the animal world.”
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So the studies of Nim Chimpsky, Washoe, Kanzi and other apes raise a problem for the generativist in so far as these animals do seem to have some rudimentary ability to combine signs in new ways.
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So these scholars respond to such evidence saying the chimps are just producing whole phrases they have learnt - i.e. they deny that this is evidence of productivity.
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Michael Tomasello
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Tomasello started by studying children’s acquisition of verbs and then went on to study the cognitive capacities of chimps and other great apes.
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course ANTHROPOLO 102 taught by Professor Dr.andreamuehelbach during the Fall '11 term at University of Toronto.

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Ant_102_Lecture_03_2011 - Intentional? Mostly NO some...

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