Why Chimpanzees Can’t Learn Language and Only Humans Can The Nim Chimpsky Experiment

Herbert S. Terrace



CATEGORY: Anthropology
PAGES: 192
SIZE: 13,5×20
EDITION: 1st print, July 2021 ,2021-06-26 15:39
HARDCOVER ISBN: 978-605-7685-89-6

This book is the Turkish translation of Why Chimpanzees Can’t Learn Language and Only Humans Can, originally published by Columbia University Press.

In the 1970s, behavioral psychologist Herbert S. Terrace conducted a remarkable experiment to find out if a chimpanzee could be taught to use language. A young chimpanzee, which Terrace called “Nim Chimpsky” in reference to renowned linguist Noam Chomsky whose theories he challenged, was raised by a family in New York and received training in American Sign Language. In the beginning, Terrace had believed that Nim would be able to form sentences. Yet later on, as he realized that the animal could not even learn words, he concluded that his project had failed. The failure of Project Nim meant that we still far from understanding the origins of language.

In his book, Terrace re-examines Project Nim to provide a brand-new perspective on the origins of human language, and unlike what Chomsky and other critics believe, Terrace argues that words make up the cornerstones of language as much as grammar does. He reviews human evolution and developmental psychology, demonstrating that non-verbal communication is the basis of the language acquisition of the infant, which leads to the first words uttered by a child.

Herbert S. Terrace is a professor at the Department of Psychology in Columbia University, New York.


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