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Imprisoned in EnglishThe Hazards of English as a Default Language$
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Anna Wierzbicka

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199321490

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199321490.001.0001

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Chimpanzees and the Evolution of Human Cognition

Chimpanzees and the Evolution of Human Cognition

(p.156) 13 Chimpanzees and the Evolution of Human Cognition
Imprisoned in English

Anna Wierzbicka

Oxford University Press

This chapter draws on recent literature on chimpanzees in the wild to posit a number of cognitive scenarios that would explain aspects of chimpanzees’ behavior. To posit such scenarios, it is necessary to posit a hypothetical set of concepts—“chimp primes.” Like other chapters of the book, this one also focuses to a large extent on the danger of Anglocentrism, and on the question of a suitable theoretical vocabulary. It points out that while “primates can obviously think” (Merlin Donald), it seems equally obvious that they don’t think in academic English. Accordingly, their thinking can be modeled in simple and universal concept such as SEE, KNOW, and WANT and not in Latinate English vocabulary as it is frequently done.

Keywords:   chimpanzees, evolution, human cognition, chimp primes, “mindreading”, cognitive scenarios for chimpanzees

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