Can Apes Really "Talk" To Humans?
Can Apes Really Talk To Humans

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What can we learn from the controversial history of ape language research? ↓↓ Links & Info ↓↓ SUBMIT A QUESTION HERE: SUBSCRIBE: TUMBLR: TWITTER: Contribute to a really cool experiment - see if you can interpret chimpanzee gestures!: Here's a good overview of the ethical and scientific questions around Kanzi and Koko: Here's Herbert Terrace's famouse Science paper: The contentious back and forth between Terrace and Penny Patterson One of Terrace's students takes on Patterson's claims: A blistering assessment of Terrace's work from moral philosopher Peter Singer: Evidence that bonobos have mental representations of words: Credits: Produced by Ryan Kellman and Adam Cole (@cadamole) Consultant: Barbara J. King Senior Editors: Alison Richards and Andrea Kissack Supervising Editor: Anne Gudenkauf Canine Liaison: Madeline Kelly Sofia Music: "The Mountain" - Podington Bear ( "The Elusive Word" - Blue Dot Sessions ( "Glorious Day" - Gary Crockett, Jay Glover, Dominic Glover "Every Second Matters" - Elliott Harms "Discoveries" - Elliott Harms "Louisiana Roll" - Walsh SFX from amazing users: nemodaedalus plivesey rivernile7 johannesschimdt


Erick Alex : Give me orange Give me eat orange Give me you Me trying to find an excuse to talk to my crush.

C'est d'la bonne : The urge us human have to make animals like us is really weird...

JusticeForTheSilenced : If Washoe signed "water" and "bird" at the swan, wouldn't that still mean he knew sign language?

1337 : 5:01 *harvard wants to know your location*

Crusoe : Actually Koko often combined concepts to express new ones she didn't have the vocabolary for. If I'm not wrong she signed "finger bracelet" to express ring.

Your Neighbour : That professor might need to be reminded that because he takes a contrarian position doesn't automatically make him right.

Sebbuz11 : They just use a simpler form of language....

Lucille de Lorme : I'd be fascinated to see the various 'talking' apes in a room together ( or possibly Via Skype for convenience) to get a window on what they'd have to say to each other. It would be incredibly eye opening to know how they'd communicate with the skills they've all been taught. Make it happen.

monomer2 : Obviously all animals communicate with each other.  However each species do this in accordance with their own physical abilities, which includes brain structure and nervous systems.  Could we humans effectively communicate with a far more advanced and intelligent species (think aliens) under their terms of what they consider language?  Not possible.  We would only be able to communicate using our limited abilities and understanding... meaning they would somehow need to figure out how we communicate and reduce their level of understanding to try to get a sense of who we are.  We need to do the same when trying to communicate with another species on our planet.  We need to learn their language and establish communication that way... humans are a very ego-centric species, which could explain why we often have trouble coexisting (connecting) with the rest of life on the planet.

Sea Level Cain : The professor was lying. The dog does understand the word sit. You say sit, it sits. But it's very simple. Like a child. It understands English but it's only ONE ENGLISH WORD. -Animals can "talk" but their form of talking is different. I have a cat, that once she run out of water, she sits by the water bowl and meows annoyingly. Trying to tell me to to fill it. It's her form of communicating with me without speaking english. Also, in the morning she jumps on my head and meows on my ear when she wants me to open a can of cat food! I know she's trying to "train me" to give her food whenever she does that. -A dog, who I taught to potty train in a pee pad. She would get a treat when she would pee or poo on it. Well, she began to purposely sit patiently on her pee pad and look at me. Thinking that would work in order to give her a treat. Heh, heh, I know what she meant and what she was trying to tell me. You ask my dog if she wants a "TREAT" she definitely knows what that word means. She will run ahead of me to the kitchen by the refrigerator, because she knows that's where I put my treat bag. Animals have limited language, but they do try to communicate with us in their own way.

Imagine waffles13 : Discrediting primates learning sign language as a means for them only to get what they want is wrong. Koko would have nothing to gain from doing things like expressing her emotions. She was the only primate to truly learn a base level of sign language. 💔 R.I.P Koko

Piximae : "Mom, I want an orange"-spoken by human child, so thus communication. "GIVE ME EAT ORANGE EAT ORANGE YOU" -spoken by an ape, not communication. Wut.

Your Neighbour : Saying apes learn language just to get food, isn't language just the same shortcut to get different things ? You don't necessarily need to learn why 'food' has two O and ends with D, but you know it means something edible and that's enough.

Protector 95 : Me after I had too much to drink. *GIVE, BEER, ME, GIVE, DRINK, BEER, ME, DRINK, BEER, GIVE, ME, DRINK, BEER, GIVE, ME, RUM AND COKE*

Army Alpaca : Koko recently died. She was so cute and kind.

Drew M : If Nom signed basically give me orange over and over doesn't that show it knows what it's asking for and the fact that it repeated it could have been frustration at not receiving what it asked for. Also doesn't that show it understands that signing specific things = communication. No matter what you call it talking or communicating or what, they can in a limited fashion. I'm not saying they'll ever get to our level of conversation and I think that's what these people are expecting. Treat them as a 2-3 year old. Our children at that age can communicate with us but we also have to interpret certain things our own children say.... how is this any different?

Mobutu Obama : 7:03 You literally talk to apes everyday mate.

Neppo : Topic: Can Apes Really "Talk" To Humans? His answer: "What do you think?" oh thanks for wasting my time then.

thomas sumrall : Koko has a brother that when he asked why he was sad, he responded by saying humans kill mother which they interpr9to mean his capture. And kanzi would go camping, make the campfire, but toast marshmallows and pour water on the fire when they were done.

Purple Reign : If you have owned dogs like I have for over 50 years, you will realize that dogs have varying levels of intelligence, just like humans do. I have had smart dogs, and not so smart dogs who are slow, but lovable. It's the same with monkeys and apes, I am sure of it.

SingDanceKC : You are always going to find a bunch of skeptical scientists who are the victims of the "not invented here" syndrome. Meaning if they didn't think of it, it's not true. Arrogant! There's nothing wrong with Apes learning English to get food. Don't people use language to get what they want?

Nathaniel Anderson : I believe that many animals can understand human speech.

walter bishop : Nim Chimpsky! I'm changing my name this week

catarina justus fischer : I think that we, human beings, are too arrogant. We want to understand and teach the animals our codes of thinking.... but as we can see they must have a very different code of thinking and communicating. If we continue to research based in our communication systems we will never achieve real communication with the animals. We should try to understand and to learn how they think, what is their codes and what is important or not in their interaction. We do nothing more than domesticate, in different ways the animals to our thinking, culture, morals and etc... That is why I think that only when we really try to understand an animal throwing aside our preconceptions, about behavior and thoughts, (human) and when we look for the feedback of the animals without assuming, than maybe we can start to learn how to communicate with other species in our planet.

AphidKirby : Your videos always fill me with such joy and I love your takes on these kind of topics! Your last words reflecting on the own intelligence and wonder of other apes was very nice. Thank you!

StephenRahrig : 3:47 😭way to remind us. RIP Harambe 😔

lorna Deamante : Yes it is worth keeping them for are curiosity we have to use drugs on then to test sometimes so i think he was fine

Sandwish : " *give me you* " that freaked the s*it out of me😂

Firstasfasfa Lastasfasfas : Koko can sign. The end

emykitkat : They can understand english. Let’s just leave it at that. Nope. No way can you make me think any other way.

Reth Tard : Well... My father can talk to humans... He's having a very basic vocabulary, but he can definitely talk...

splendor Inthegrass : nah they just monekeying around.

Wagon Life : Yes you can have a conversation with an ape. Just talk to Jeremy Clarkson. 🎉🎉

TheSkittleFur : This story is a little bit about physics and centrifugal on how i was told it was a myth in 10th grade but was told changed by a professor lol

FluBluBoy : I think that the apes are using language like how dogs learn language, for example, when one of the apes was told to put the needles in the refrigerator, he took it as an order that was one word, he doesn't structure the sentence and analyse the words in the sentence. That is why we could not have said, put the needles and blueberrys in the fridge.

Christocream : Harambe could talk, sadly people had to kill him

spooder doodle : 6:39 sure why not just give a monkey a god damn knife. NoOooOoo Nothing can go wrong there!!!

Megan Upton : Your videos are great! Thanks for keeping it so upbeat and interesting, they are super enjoyable to watch and I always learn a lot

Crisis Contrived : You could have just said, yes they understand language.

Niko : Why don’t we just learn their language? At the end of the day, we have the resources they don’t.

Warbudda Teaches : There's only a 2% difference in dna between us and apes. Sure they can't do everything we do but they're smart. Koko knows how to use sign language there's no doubt in my mind. Your professor is an idiot, just because he works for a college doesn't make him automatically right.

Magnus Peacock : Is anyone going to point out that humans *are* apes?

T JL : Great work on putting this piece together! Very informative content, nicely-edited and well produced. Cheers!

Jeffrey Conner : I talk to my wife does that count?

Krista Wiegand : That is how our language is, you learn the meaning of a word by associating an action with it through practice. If someone tells you to "stop" you eventually learn it means to "not do what you were doing before". How is that not understanding a meaning of a word? Humans are just able to create a more complex bank of words and meanings just with how our brains are designed.

Jonathan Pasch : Koko was the real deal!!

Pyro Demon : Aren’t similar lexigram studies being done on orangutans?

Ghost : To say apes don't understand what they're saying or what we're saying because they don't respect grammar and syntax is ridiculous. We can't teach them sign language and expect them to suddenly grasp higher language. We are still COMMUNICATING with them on a higher level (which as the more intelligent species is our task to figure out) than normally possible thank to ASL.