ABSTRACT

Impatient for the results of scientific inquiry, historical and contemporary records are replete with proclamations about our species' distinguishing attributes. One by one, however, these proclamations have been found wanting. For instance, Homo sapiens is no longer defined as the tool maker, nor is our species the only primate that reasons and transmits culture across generations (see Heltne & Marquardt,

258 RUMBAUGH AND SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH

1989). The same is generally conceded for still other attributes once held as bastions of uniqueness for humankind. There is, however, one notable, indeed remarkable, point of distinction that is looked upon by many as the ultimate, irresolute line that demarcates humans from all other animals, and that is language.