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Savage-Rumbaugh (1986)
1. To study language acquisition in two pygmy chimpanzees ­ Kanzi and Mulika ­ compared with
two common chimpanzees ­ Austin and Sherman.
2. To describe the first instance in which a non-human species has acquired symbols without specific
training towards that goal.
Information on the Experiment
This was a quasi-experiment.
It was repeated measure design.
Two pygmy chimpanzees
Kanzi (main subject of research) aged four when the report was written
Mulika, aged three (Kanzi's sister)
Two common chimpanzees
Sherman and Austin
Aged nine and ten
Longitudinal study ­ 10 year span
This study reports on a 17 month period
Medium of communication:
Lexigram ­ geometric symbols which brighten when touched and attached
speech synthesiser
Pointing board outside
Spoken English and gestures accompanied experimenters' use of lexigram
Modelling approach rather than formal training
Differences in rearing environments
Kanzi and Mulika Sherman and Austin

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Observational setting Training environment
Speech synthesiser No speech synthesiser
Used pointing board outside the lab Used pointing board outside the lab
Independent Variable
The two different types of chimpanzees
Dependent Variable
Measure of language acquisition
o Four main differences were found
o Kanzi and Mulika comprehended the lexigrams with far more ease and used them far more
spontaneously without the need for training than Austin and Sherman did
o Kanzi and Mulika were far more able to comprehend spoken English words
o Kanzi and…read more

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Mulika's symbol acquisition
Symbols Age acquired (months)
Milk 17
Key, t-room, surprise 20
Juice, water 22
Groom 37
Egg 40
Hamburger, water, M&M, surprise 41
Clover, Matata (her mother), TV, orange juice 42
Mulika, carrot 43
Grab, tree house, blanket, blackberry 44
Mushroom trail 45
Refrigerator, hot dog 46
Data gathered
Kanzi ­ all lexigram utterances for 17 months (from the age of two and a half)
Mulika ­ all lexigram utterances for ten months (from the age of 11 months)
All utterances classified as:…read more


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