No, they can't.They are just associating a few pictures with sounds.If they could talk, wouldn't they be saying "I want to leave this place!" or "Let my people go"?
When Roger Fouts visited Booee, who had been sent to a lab from the language studies at Oklahoma, he repeatedly signed to Roger from his small cage: "Key" and "Out."This was captured on film by one of the TV news shows. (20/20 maybe.)
I find it very weird when I see humans speaking conversationally to primates (as occurs in this video & as I've seen in other documentaries), asking them to respond to fairly complex ideas (e.g. "Do you prefer hotdogs or marshmallows?"), and then be asked: Can primates talk? Can they understand language? Gee - ya think?Also annoying are attempts to keep raising the bar (in this case, with regards language) so as to exclude nonhumans. We're all part of a continuum, biologically, emotionally, psychologically. It's time for humans - researchers & philosophers not least of all - to come to grips with the obvious.
I agree: a continuum it is. One where humans sit at the very end of the tail with other species lagging way behind.My dog can get his leash when he wants to go out. This behavior is reinforced when I actually decide to walk him. He is clearly communicating with me. Talking? I don't think so. A good book to read: "Faces in the clouds". It is about antropomorphism in religion -- but I think it applies equally well in our relationship with animals.
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