Washoe, the Chimp Who Could Swear

Washoe, the Chimp Who Could Swear November 16, 2013


Washoe, one of the chimpanzees raised by Alan and Trixie Gardner from infancy using American Sign Language (ASL), learned to produce about 150 words. In some instances, she formed compound words to describe new events. ‘Water-bird’ was how she described a duck. In one documented instance, she extended the semantic referent of ‘dirty.’ Washoe, like other young Gardner chimpanzees, at first wore diapers. The word ‘dirty’ ws used to refer to her soiling herself. But when Roger Fouts, the graduate student working with Washoe refused to give her a second slice of cake at a party, Washoe signed ‘dirty Roger.'”

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