Latest News: Languages

Studying chimpanzee calls for clues about the origins of human language

Tuesday, May 8, 2018  
Posted by: Jennifer Olivares
 

Freud, Wilkie and the other chimpanzees peacefully fed and rested in the sun-dappled Tanzanian forest. Mzee Hilali stood next to me, writing notes on the chimpanzees’ behavior, as he had been doing for over 30 years as a field assistant for Jane Goodall’s long-term study at Gombe National Park.

Suddenly, a strange, high-pitched call sounded from where some other chimpanzees were feeding, about a hundred meters from us. Hilali turned to me, and with a little laugh, said, “Nyoka.” This was the Swahili word for “snake.”

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