April 07, 2004

Talking Chimp

The Zoological Society of London has issued a call for volunteers to

`talk chimp' in everyday life and see how primate patter can resolve workplace conflicts, express emotions and strengthen human bonds.
The BBC has a news piece about the project, which quotes organizational psychologist Cary Cooper as explaining the potential benefit to humans thus:
What they communicate is words, not feelings, so this kind of thing would give them access to their emotions.
This statement doesn't make sense. People don't "communicate words". They communicate using words. And one of the things that they communicate by this means is surely feelings. This is an area about which I know very little, but I wonder if there is any real evidence that human language, together with gesture, facial expression, and other non-verbal means of communication, provides us with less of an ability to communicate feelings than chimpanzees have.

Posted by Bill Poser at April 7, 2004 09:52 PM