Language Research with Nonhuman Animals: Methods and Problems

  • William A. Hillix
  • Duane M. Rumbaugh
Part of the Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects book series (DIPR)


If any new anatomic or behavioral characteristic is to evolve, it must provide a reproductive advantage to its possessor. Language cannot be an exception. Language is a method of communicating between individuals, so only species that live socially can benefit from language. Social species can increase their reproductive success by improving their ability to avoid predators; thus species from prairie dogs1 to monkeys have calls that warn others of the presence of predators. Some animals, notably chimpanzees and bees, direct other members of their social group—especially their relatives—to sources of food. Communication about readiness to mate is also of critical importance. Animals ranging from moths to buffaloes may communicate their willingness to mate chemically through odors, as well as through behavior.


Sign Language American Sign Language Human Language Nonhuman Animal Language Research 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • William A. Hillix
    • 1
  • Duane M. Rumbaugh
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologySan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Psychology and BiologyGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Iowa Primate Learning SanctuaryDes MoinesUSA

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