Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Take that, Noam Chomsky!

Mental Floss magazine has a wonderfully funny and informative article on the top ten smartest primates in history. If you love monkeys -- and who doesn't? -- you've got to check it out, if only to learn good cocktail party fodder such as this:

"(Noam) Chomsky derided trainers for attempting to teach sign language to primates and insisted that only the human mind is capable of grasping the complexities of language syntax.

Naturally, zoologists around the world became eager to prove him wrong. Enter Neam Chimpsky ("Nim" for short), the chimpanzee designed to be a stiff middle finger to the doubtful Chomsky. In the mid-1970s, trainers did everything they could to teach American Sign Language to Nim, but the chimp only mastered 125 signs.

Apparently, his lingual development was sabotaged by his own one-track mind. His most advanced utterance was, 'Give orange me give eat orange me eat orange give me eat orange give me you.'"

Sometimes you just gotta have an orange.

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