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Functional Dimensions of Ape-Human Discourse

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Functional Dimensions of Ape-Human Discourse asks the question ‘what do interactions between apes and humans mediated by language tell us?’. In order to answer this question the authors explore language-in-context, drawing on a multi-leveled, multi-functional linguistics. The levels are context of culture, context of situation, semantics, lexicogrammar, and phonology; and the functions are ideational, interpersonal, and textual.

Chapter One discusses a negotiation between the bonobo Kanzi and Sue Savage-Rumbaugh in terms of discourse-semantics and the ideational and interpersonal metafunctions of lexicogrammar. Chapter Two reinterprets Sue Savage-Rumbaugh et. al. Language Comprehension in Ape and Child (1993) in terms of the ideational metafunction, and provides corroborative evidence for Kanzi’s symbolic processing abilities, opening a window into the consciousness of at least one non-human primate. Chapter Three compares three snapshots from comprehensive studies based on large amounts of data (monkey calls, language development in a human child, and a dialogue between Kanzi’s sibling Panbanisha and Sue Savage-Rumbaugh) from an evolutionary perspective, showing different ways in which the level of grammar comes to be wedged in between semantics and expression. Chapter Four articulates a methodology incorporating public domain software for the comprehensive analysis of ape-human interaction. Although bonobo-human interaction is used as an example, the methodology could be utilized for studies of chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans.

Published: Nov 1, 2005


Section Chapter Authors
List of contributors James D. Benson, William S. Greaves †
Preface James D. Benson, William S. Greaves †
The interpersonal dimension: confrontation and support in bonobo-human discourse James D. Benson, Peter Fries, William S. Greaves, Kazuyoshi Iwamoto, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, Jared P. Taglialatela
The ideational dimension: evidence for symbolic language processing in a bonobo (Pan paniscus) James D. Benson, William S. Greaves, Michael O'Donnell, Jared P. Taglialatela
The evolutionary dimension: the thin edge of the wedge – grammar and discourse in the evolution of language James D. Benson, William S. Greaves, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, Jared P. Taglialatela, Paul Thibault
The multistratal dimension: a methodology for phonemic analysis of vocalizations of language competent bonobos James D. Benson, Meena Debashish, William S. Greaves, Jennifer Lukas, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, Jared P. Taglialatela
End Matter
Index James D. Benson

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