The basis of Gardner and Gardner's study was the extent to which another species might be able to use human language. They believed that there are two ways to study this, first by looking at the nerual mechanisms of learning and language. Naom Chomsky argued that humans have a special part of the brain, the LAD (language aquisition device), that means we are biologically programmed to acquire language. This explains why humans all over the world have language and why children acquire langauge naturally. According to this view, animals should not be able to acquite language.
An alternative approach to studying the extent to which another species may be able to use human language is to try and teach a form of it to an animal. Gardner and Gardner chose this approach when they began training an infant female chimpanzee named Washoe to use the gestural approach of the deaf (American sign language).
Before conducting their study, Gardner and Gardner considered which animal would be best for learning language. This piece of research was to improve upon and develop previous research using language and chimpanzees.
Previous research includes Hayes & Hayes who worked extensively with a chimpanzee called Vicki. They aimed to teach her to produce vocal language, however in their six years of working with her, she was only able to make four sounds which…