Can a Gorilla Learn English?

Is it possible to teach a gorilla how to communicate? Yes, gorillas are able to learn sign language. Talk about ‘Planet of the Apes’ 2.0.

unsplash-logoMike Arney

Gorillas are the smartest, buffest, hairy, and 100% planet-based. These creatures don’t eat meat or hunt. They chomp on greens and delectable fruits all day every day.

They can range anywhere from 5 feet to 6 feet tall. Speaking of life span, they live for around half the average human, 35-40 years.

unsplash-logoJohnny Chen

Western gorillas weigh an average of 350 lbs. That’s twice as much as the average human.

Koko, a female western gorilla, learned sign language taught by a human named Francine Patterson. This form of sign language was a modified version and called Gorilla Sign Language.

1996: Dr Francine Patterson plays with her kitty-cat friend and Koko. -Chicago Tribune

She was able to use 1,000 signs in her language & could understand over 2,000 English words. Talk about trippy. Koko practically was human. Scientifically, she is the level of a 3-year-old.

Koko recognized nouns, verbs, and adjectives, even “good” and “fake” which are abstract concepts.

It is widely agreed that she would not use syntax or grammar and that her language use did not surpass that of a small human child.

National Geographic

However, on IQ tests, she scores between 70-90. Some specialists, including Mary Lee Jensvold, suggest that “Koko…[used] language the same way people do”.

Koko passed away on June 19, 2018, at age 46. But her language legacy continues as more and more gorillas are being taught how to sign. Koko was the best of them.

source: Wikipedia.






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