521-Class 3

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Teaching language to other animals[edit]

Readings: Saxton (2009); Kaminski, Call, & Fisher (2004). The Saxton chapter is from a textbook - easy! - Please read up to (not including) the section called Is Speech Special.

After reading the Kaminski paper, have a look at this New York Times article.
...Do you think Chaser (the dog described in the article) demonstrate abilities that go beyond those shown by Rico in the Kaminski et al reading? (mention this in your QRC)

Study Questions[edit]

Saxton (2009)

  • How does Saxton's treatment of the distinction between language and (non-human) animal communication differ from Burlings?
  • What does it say about animal cognition that under the right circumstances, some animals can learn some rudiments of language?

Kaminski et al (2004)

  • What is the “Clever Hans” effect and why is it important to know when 
studying animal communication?
  • What is “fast mapping”? What is mutual exclusivity?
  • Was Rico able to retain knowledge of objects over time?
  • According to Kaminski, what are some of the “simpler mechanisms” that can explain Rico’s 
abilities to learn words?
  • What is the difference between making acoustic associations and making 
semantic associations? 

  • What important aspect of word learning did the people who trained/tested Chaser show that people who tested Rico did not show?