In 2011 I will be presenting my course Communicatie en taal bij dieren at still further institutes of the Hoger Onderwijs Voor Ouderen – HOVO (Higher Education for older people). My course on the many wonders of animal communication and the intriguing history of scientific research on possibly teaching a human language to nonhuman animals, has received wide interest.
This new year I will be giving my course at the HOVO Brabant Seniorenacademie at their location at Tilburg University. It will consist of 10 lessons on Thursday morning, starting on 27 January and ending on 7 April 2011. For the HOVO Leiden I will be giving the course in 8 lessons on Tuesday afternoon, starting on 22 February, with the last lesson on 12 April 2011. Registration for both courses is now open. You can find more information and register by clicking here for HOVO Brabant and by clicking here for HOVO Leiden.
The programme of my course Communicatie en taal bij dieren will consist of the following lectures:
- Communication and human language: Characteristics and definitions. Language development in human children.
- Natural communication of animals. Goals and modalities. The honeybee dances. The alarm calls of vervet monkeys and prairie dogs.
- Natural communication of animals. The songs and calls of birds. The communication of wales and other animals.
- Natural communication of the great apes: chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and bonobos.
- Language research with great apes. History. Experiments with spoken language and sign language. The world famous signing apes: the chimpanzee Washoe, the gorilla Koko, and the orangutan Chantek.
- The ape language controversy. Research with the signing chimpanzee Nim. Methodological pitfalls and errors in interpretations and conclusions.
- The recent use of signs by chimpanzees in interactions with humans. Systematic study and conclusions with regard to the linguistic nature of signing by great apes.
- The language research with the world famous Kanzi and other bonobos who communicate with lexigrams. Interpretations and conclusions.
- Language research with other animals: dolphins, sealions, Alex the parrot.
- How did human language evolve?
The courses will be given in the Dutch language, but passive knowledge of English is required, given that some of the videos and films that I’ll be showing at the lectures are in English without subtitles. Accompanying study material will consist of a reader/syllabus with major articles or book excerpts on the subjects of animal communication and language research with nonhuman animals. The powerpoint presentation of each lecture will be made available to those attending the course.
If Tilburg or Leiden are too far from where you live, don’t worry. I am in touch with several other HOVO institutes about giving my course in the Summer or Autumn of 2011. I’m looking forward to meeting you at one of my courses!