Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Lisa M. Paciulli & Jacqueline L. Hagen
Language is a collection of symbols that represents objects, actions, and thoughts. It is representational, allowing for the transmission and relocation of information between minds. It can be written, spoken, gestured, and/or signed for purposes of communication. It is often debated whether or not humans are the only animal possessing language capabilities. In particular, some studies have revealed that great apes (chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans) exhibit some languagelike qualities. Apes have a larger brain size to body size ratio than all other nonhuman primates. In addition, one of the apes, the chimpanzee ( Pan troglodytes ), shares 98.4% of their deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) with humans. Apes typically use scent markings, pilo (hair) erection, facial expressions, and vocalizations, as well as other verbal and visual means of communication. Apes also can communicate with humans, and chimpanzees are capable of forming infrequent human vocalizations in response to human speech. In addition, ...