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Lang Commun. 2011 Jan 1;31(1):63-74.

Nonhuman Primates do Declare! A Comparison of Declarative Symbol and Gesture Use in Two Children, Two Bonobos, and A Chimpanzee.

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1
Department of Psychology, Agnes Scott College, 141 E. College Ave, Decatur, GA, 30030.

Abstract

While numerous publications have shown that apes can learn some aspects of human language, one frequently cited difference between humans and apes is the relative infrequency of declaratives (comments and statements) as opposed to imperatives (requests) in ape symbol use. This paper describes the use of declaratives in three language-competent apes and two children. The apes produced a lower proportion of spontaneous declaratives than did the children. However, both groups used declaratives to name objects, to interact and negotiate, and to make comments about other individuals. Both apes and children also made comments about past and future events. However, showing/offering/giving, attention getting, and comments on possession were declarative types made by the children but rarely by the apes.

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