Nonhuman communication and evolution of human language



Read Nonhuman Precursors of Language and the Intro right before it in Module 13.2 (14.2 in the 11th edition) of our book. I recommend watching one of more of the following presentations if you are having a hard time imaging or understanding these case studies.

Washoe the chimpanzee learns language.

 This is a slide show with audio about Kanzi the bonobo, by Sue Savage-Rumbaugh.

 This video profile of the grey parrot Alex is about 12 minutes.


From the journal Nature

Next read the section and subsections under “How did Humans Evolve Language?” and watch this 15 minute video about the FOXP2 gene.

1. Answer at least one of these two questions in your post. 

  • What is the difference between nonhuman language or communication and human communication?
  • What leads to animals being more likely to become advanced at understanding or “speaking” human language? Are 
  • these the same circumstances that lead to better human ability in the area of language?
  • Describe the theories about how language evolved in humans.
  • What is the FOXP2 gene responsible for? What happens when it is mutated?

2. Reply to one of your classmate’s posts letting them know what you learned from reading their answer.