Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Can animals be taught language by Kensuke H

              In the past fifty years or so, the attempt to teach animals language have been

conducted actively. Especially the great apes such as gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos

and orangutans have been expected to learn language because they share close to 99%

of their genetic materials with human beings and have higher intelligence than other

animals. Some people say that animals can learn language based on the fact that the dog

ordered to sit by his owner really sits. In my opinion, animals cannot learn language.

First, they have no linguistic productivity. Second, they don’t see the world like human

beings do.

              Animals have no linguistic productively. In other words, they don’t have

grammar, which connects several meaningful words. The example of dog that I

mentioned above proves this. The dog ordered to sit by his owner just sits, but doesn’t

do what’s not ordered. This is just a repetition of order-action, and doesn’t connect

several meaningful words. The animals would be accepted to learn language if they use


              Another reason that animals cannot learn language is that animals don’t see the

world like human beings do. Animals have its own world and human beings have their

own world. Even between human cultures, there are some differences. For example,

Japanese, Korean and French think that a rainbow consists of 7 colors, but Americans

think that it consists of 6 colors. Although this is the example of how human

beings conceptualize the world, the same thing can be applied to animals. Animals have

their own way to conceptualize the world, its way differs from human beings one. We

wouldn’t teach animals language without clarifying the way animals conceptualize the


              In conclusion, we cannot teach animals language. Animals don’t have grammar

and have a different way to conceptualize the world. There are some problems to teach

animals language, the time we can talk with animals will come if the problems are




A.    Bergmannd,et al. (eds.)(2011) Language Files: Materials for an Introduction to

Language and Linguistics, 11th ed., Columbus: Ohio State University Press

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