Can an Ape Create a Sentence?

Forget what you saw in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Apes can’t make sentences, even if someone has tried really hard to teach them sign language. The documentary Project Nim describes one attempt to teach sign language to a chimpanzee:

The chimpanzee used in this experiment was named Nim Chimpsky, which was a mocking reference to the linguist Noam Chomsky, who had predicted that no such experiment would work. Chomsky said that it’s about as likely that an ape will prove to have a language ability as there is an island somewhere with a species of flightless birds waiting for humans to teach them to fly. In other words, if apes could use language, they’d be doing so already.
Continue reading “Can an Ape Create a Sentence?”