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Nim Chimpsky

Nim Chimpsky (1973-2000) was a chimpanzee named after linguist Noam Chomsky. He was raised like a human child in a study for Columbia University, and was one of the first chimps to be taught American Sign Language (ASL). Although Nim did learn 125 signs, the study concluded that he hadn't acquired anything worthy of the name "language"; he had merely learned to imitate his trainer in appropriate contexts. (Note, however, that the definitions of both "language" and "imitation", as well as the question of just how language-like Nim's performance was, are controversial.)

After his owners were reportedly going to sell Nim to a research lab, public involvement funded Nim's retirement to a ranch in Texas, where he died at the age of 26 from a heart attack.

Other apes that learned ASL include the chimp Washoe[?] and the gorilla Koko.

See also: Noam Chomsky, linguistics

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