August 20, 2006

MSL Research

Today in the car, K decided to read me some facts to me from one of her books. She rarely goes anywhere without some sort of nonfiction book.

“Dad, did you know that the average person knows between 5,000 and 6,000 words?”

I told her that I’d heard that, and then we started to discuss how many words we might each know. She wanted to list all the words she knows, and I didn’t want to dissuade her because, you know, that’s one good way to keep a kid busy.

But I interrupted her because I wanted to start a discussion on research. So I asked her “How do you think the researchers counted the number of words that average people know?” I figured that was a good starting point.

K, without even waiting a beat blurted out her guess

K: “They used monkey sign language?”

Me: “Er, what?”

I’m still trying to figure out what she meant.

Posted by James at August 20, 2006 1:32 AM
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Comments

The only "monkey sign language" I can think of is from Every Which Way But Loose.

Posted by: DG at August 21, 2006 11:32 AM

I don't know about Monkey Sign Language--that sounds like the cute noodlings of your very intelligent child.

However, there is GSL. Koko the gorilla learned ASL (American Sign Language) and adapted them to her gorilla hands. Here's some info on Koko and her GSL (Gorilla Sign Language):

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/koko/asl.html

When Dr. Francine "Penny" Patterson began teaching Koko sign language, it soon became apparent that gorilla hands were shaping the language in a unique way. But as A CONVERSATION WITH KOKO dramatically shows, the difference wasn't surprising, for gorilla hands are shaped quite differently than a person's. In particular, gorilla thumbs are smaller than ours, meaning the apes can't make some signs the way a person would. As a result, Koko has developed what Patterson calls Gorilla Sign Language, or GSL.

Posted by: Patti M. at August 21, 2006 3:50 PM

LOL! It's all about the monkeys.

Posted by: briwei at August 21, 2006 5:58 PM

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