This book is a critique of the experiments of recent years that tried to teach language to apes. The achievements of these animals are compared with the natural development of language, both spoken and signed forms, in children. It is argued that the apes in these studies acquired merely crude simulations of language rather than language itself and that there is no good evidence that apes can acquire a language. A survey of the communication systems of apes and monkeys in nature finds that these systems differ from language in profound ways--language is a uniquely human attribute.
"Its strength lies in the overview it provides of the methods, theory, and results of this work, and in its potential to assist in bringing methodological improvement and conceptual clarification to future work on the linguistic abilities of apes and other animal species." American Journal of Primatology "The strength of this book is that it provides a concise review of the theory, methods, data, and resulting interpretations...Wallman has written a useful summary and critique." American Journal of Physical Anthropology "A well-written book." E. Delson, Choice "The outline of Wallman's book is straightforward...His treatment of the controversies surrounding the success of the programs, indeed surrounding the possibility of demonstrating language in nonhumans, is vivid. There is both vitriol and passion here, suggesting that the issues go far beyond the data...Wallman's narrative is both scholarly and entertaining...enjoyable and elegant." Contemporary Psychology "...a conscientious, rational book that not only reviews the many and varied 'ape language' experiments of the last two decades, but reviews the copntroversy itself." Semiotica