Poetry for Primates

There’s been increased interest lately in monkey languages after discoveries were made about how putty-nosed monkeys combine sounds to create a basic syntax:
* Hack-hack-hack-hack: “There’s an eagle over there!”
* Pyow-hack-hack-pyow-pyow-pyow: “I’ve seen a leopard, let’s move away!”
* Hack-hack-hack-pyow-hack-hack-hack-hack-hack “There’s an eagle over
there, let’s move away!”
But research at the Great Ape Trust using the sign language Yerkish reveals the primates are capable of far more linguistic sophistication. Primate Poetics sets out a manifesto to enrich this new language, starting, ambitiously, with a translation of the epic Gilgamesh:
“We will learn Yerkish.
We will translate human literature into Yerkish.
We will invent words, word-tricks, word-jokes, word-games to show the
apes new ways of using (their) language.
We will become knowledgeable and original enough to be invited by the researchers of the Great Ape Trust to read our Yerkish translation of Gilgamesh to Kanzi, Panbanisha and all the others.”
“We are not here to compare and to compete with the ape but to appreciate its language for its own beauty. This is emphatically not about some lone genius monkey penning the Great Primate Novel.”
Found via the sadly lamented Nonist.
See also: The song of the gibbon
Can apes talk?

2 thoughts on “Poetry for Primates

  1. Pomposa

    I once visited Linton zoo near Cambridge and was astonished by the volume and range of the gibbons’ whooping. (I thoroughly enjoy ‘Fed by Birds’ incidentally, especially its eclecticism)

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