Masters Thesis

Teaching linguistic concepts to a juvenile orangutan.

Following the methods of Gardner and Gardner (1969) and Premack and Premack (1972), others have continued human- pongid two-way communication studies elaborating upon the procedures of both the former investigators. Fouts (1973), after the Gardners, has employed hand gestures or modified American Sign Language as a medium of communication in his work. Rumbaugh and his group (1973), following Premack, have used an artificial symbol language in a system in which a computer can mediate dialog between subject and experimenter. It is not surprising that the subject of. study has been the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes). Except for an attempt to teach a gorilla (Pan gorilla) gestural language,1 linguis- tic studies with pong ids have been exclusively with chimpan- zees. This has been primarily a matter of availability and economics since the chimpanzee is only now becoming threatened in its natural environment, whereas the other two species, the gorilla and the orangutan (Pongo pygmeaus), have been endan- gered for quite some time (MacKinnon, 1975, van Lawick- Goodall, 1971, and Bourne, 1971).