At the ripe old age of 45, Koko the gorilla still startles researchers. Raised in captivity and taught sign language at a young age, Koko is the subject of a decades-long experiment in interspecies communication. Through a variant of American Sign Language, Koko’s been known to show a sense of humor, to lie, to create new compound words (like finger-bracelet for “ring’), to keep pets, and to express a wide range of emotions — all traits researchers once thought to be exclusively human. Now, she seems to be making attempts to go beyond sign, and may be imitating human vocalizations, an achievement previously thought physiologically impossible. Marcus Perlman studies language and cognition at the University of Wisconsin’s Lupyan Laboratory. Marcus joined Monday 8 O’Clock Buzz host Brian Standing in the WORT studios for some language fun and games.
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