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Talking primates: human language vs chimp communication

Is human language qualitatively different and distinct from animal communication? Can you call animal communication a language?


A human child's extraordinary capacity to acquire spoken language is one of the great mysteries of our species. By studying people with inherited language problems, scientists are starting to identify the genes that help us learn to speak. The most well-known of these genes is one called FOXP2. Interestingly, chimpanzees carry a different version of FOXP2 from humans. Could genetic differences like this explain why there are no talking chimpanzees? Or does the ability of primates to communicate using complex calls represent a form of language in itself?

Join us for a cup of coffee and have fun discussing the similarities and differences between chimpanzee and human communication. We will consider fascinating questions such as, is human language qualitatively different and distinct from animal communication? Can you call animal communication a language? And finally, is it our language that truly makes us human?

This event is part of the Cafe Scientifique programme at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition. Cafes will take place in the Terrace Cafe. They are free and open for all to attend, just grab a drink and get talking! Audience participation is strongly encouraged.


Speaker(s):

Dr Simon Fisher | talks | www
Dr Bridget Waller | talks

 

Date and Time:

10 July 2011 at 3:00 pm

Duration:

1 hour 30 minutes

 

Venue:

The Royal Society
6-9 Carlton House Terrace
London
SW1Y 5AG
+44 20 74 51 2500
http://www.royalsociety.org

More at The Royal Society...

 

Tickets:

Free

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