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The Analysis of Verbal Behavior

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 17–39 | Cite as

Ape Language Research: A Review and Behavioral Perspective

Article

Abstract

The ape language research of the Gardners, Fouts, Terrace, Rumbaugh, and Savage-Rumbaugh is reviewed. This research involved the raising of chimpanzees (and a bonobo) in human-like environments over extended time periods. The results indicate that apes are capable of learning small verbal repertoires in a fashion similar to that of human infants. The writings of the ape language researchers show an opposition to behavioral approaches to language. Although they characterize each other’s work as behavioral, they oppose such explanations applied to their own work. A behavior-analytic approach to language has much empirical support, and behavioral treatments for people with language delays have produced substantial results. Despite the protestations of the ape language researchers, now is an appropriate time to apply the extensive knowledge base derived from a science of behavior to language acquisition in apes.

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Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Western Michigan UniversityKalamazooUSA

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