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Next of Kin: My Conversations with Chimpanzees Paperback – Sep 1 1998

4.9 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (Sept. 1 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380728222
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380728220
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.6 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #37,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

For three decades, primatologist Roger Fouts has been involved in language studies of the chimpanzee, the animal most closely related to human beings. Among his subjects was the renowned Washoe, who was "endowed with a powerful need to learn and communicate," and who developed an extraordinary vocabulary in American sign language. Another chimpanzee, Fouts writes, "never made a grammatical error," which turned a whole school of linguistic theory upside down. While reporting these successes, Fouts also notes that chimpanzees are regularly abused in laboratory settings and that in the wild their number has fallen from 5,000,000 to fewer than 175,000 in the last century.

From Library Journal

In the early 1970s, Allen and Beatrix Gardner performed groundbreaking research in language by teaching American sign language (ASL) to a young female chimpanzee named Washoe. Hired to work with Washoe on this project was a budding psychologist named Roger Fouts. In this work, Fouts (psychology, Central Washington Univ.), codirector of the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute, unfolds a fascinating account of how Washoe and four other chimps learned to communicate with humans and with one another via ASL, shattering the concept put forth by Herbert S. Terrace in Nim (1979) that language was a defining barrier between humans and other animals. Fouts also breaks another barrier?declaring love for his research subjects, considering the chimps as his extended family. His actions to improve life for his chimpanzees, he notes, and promote humane treatment of all apes in captivity have adversely affected his professional career. Recommended for academic and public libraries.?Raymond Hamel, Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Ctr. Lib., Madison
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: School & Library Binding
This book weaves together behavioral research, child psychology, linguistics, oncology, evolution, animal rights and a simple story of two friends who each learn incredible things from the other. The story was so intriguing no matter what topic was being covered that I read all 400 pages in 3 1/2 days. At the risk of sounding melodramatic I literally laughed out loud at points, and broke down in tears at others. Next of Kin demonstrates what man can do at his best as well as his worst.
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Format: Paperback
I have just finished reading Roger Fout's Next of Kin book and was very impressed. I am a linguist and am planning to talk about Animal Communication in a Psycholinguistics course I will be teaching this Fall. I had always just accepted the conclusion found in most introductory Linguistics textbooks that what chimps can do is really not very much, doesn't resemble human language, and that people like Dr. Fouts have expanded the notion of what 'language' is to somewhat unacceptable lengths. I accepted that Terrace's work with Nim Chimpsky (which you read about in the book) showed that just those researchers who were highly emotionally involved with their animals were the ones who ridiculously thought that chimpanzees could really produce creative signs. After reading this book I am convinced that chimpanzees are highly intelligent and have been able to learn to use sign language in a way that I would consider langauge. I am also convinced, though not a great animal lover, that treating chimpanzees as research subjects is just inhumane. So I would agree with everyone else that this is an extraordinary book. I highly recommend it, especially to linguists who really have little idea of what Washoe and Loulis are able to communicate in sign language.
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Format: Paperback
Roger Fouts has written an extraordinary book that combines insight with scientific fact as he relates his experiences with a special chimpanzee who changed the direction of his life. As a graduate student in experimental psychology at the University of Nevada, Fouts is given an assistantship to "teach a chimpanzee to talk" using modified American Sign Language, and thus begins his introduction to impishly clever Washoe. Washoe is in almost every sense a "person", with specific character traits, likes and dislikes, habits and methods. When she is in danger of being dumped into a medical facility at the end of the study, Fouts fights to protect her against the woefully inadequate laws and accepted scientific procedures. His battle not only for Washoe but for all captive chimpanzees becomes the focus of his career. Because Washoe and her companions have the ability to express themselves, this is at times a heartbreaking tale as Fouts and the reader discover how closely related chimps and humans truly are. Through his passionate storytelling and his breadth of knowledge, Fouts gives readers an intimate glimpse into these fascinating non-human lives.
I cannot express adequately how moving and instructive this account is. It will affect you on a deeply emotional level - I can't imagine how anyone can emerge from this story unchanged. I highly recommend this book for all readers, from teenagers to adults, from casual to serious readers.
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By A Customer on Dec 23 2002
Format: Paperback
No matter your philosophy on the feelings and intellect of animals, this book will change it. I believe that animals have emotions and cognitive skills, but this book really enhanced and helped direct my own personal creed.
The book tells story of a young grad student who falls into a cross-fostering experiment with a young chimpanzee named Washoe. Two professors are raising her as a human child and teaching her sign language. Fouts ends up as Washoe's lifelong caretaker and friend, traveling with her as she is moved from university to university, trying to protect her against a system that views her as an unfeeling piece of property. Along the way other chimpanzees join him and Washoe, until he has a small family of chimps, all capable of sign language, to care for.
The book is remarkable for many reasons. The narrative is interesting, clearly explained, and easy to read, even when Fouts discusses the physiology of language and evolution. The story is fascinating, the antics of the chimps are hilarious and eye-opening, and Fouts' journey to find Washoe and her family a good home (from Reno to Oklahoma to Washington) is determined and inspiring. The subject matter is phenomenal. Reading about Washoe's son, Loulis, learning sign language from her (the first animal to be taught a human language by another animal), the interactions between the chimps and humans (Lucy, who brews tea and serves it to Fouts every morning) and the brief legal history of the chimpanzees as research subjects, is incredible.
Read this book with an open mind. It will change you.
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Format: Paperback
If you like a modest, exuberant, funny, generous and emotional true story as i do, then i would strongly recommend you to read Next of Kin which is fasicnating by telling the thougtful mind and intelligence of Chimpanzees, and deeply affecting by their human like behaviors to communicate and live in their society. When humans think they are the only primate who can have the great intelligence of language and logical behavior, Washoe, a smart chimpanzee in an ASL project, against this scientific establishment. Her learning pattern and behavior is like a human child's. People criticized that Washoe can sign is because of reinforcement but not her own thought. However, atfer staying with Washoe for a long time, Roger figures out that she does think. She signs dogs when she sees a real dog. She knows to sign use key to unlock the door that shows she realizes key can open door. Being a foster daughter of human , washoe does think herself as human. When she realizes the truth by sending to Dr. Lemmon 's island which there are many chimps. She was grief but learns to accept and show love to other chimpanzees even though she 's out of contact with other same primate for a long time. She uses and teaches ASL to communicate with other chimps. All of her behaviors tell us that chimps are so much like us. Many scientists use them to do many painful and inhuman experiments. however, they have never thought about they are hurting our relative ancestor. We should start care them and stop using any product by animal experiments.
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