Open Access Articles- Top Results for Yerkish


"Lexigraphy" redirects here. For dictionaries, see lexicography.
Created by Ernst von Glasersfeld
Setting and usage Use a keyboard to punch keys with lexigrams
Users 3 (apes)  (date missing)[citation needed]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 None (mis)
Glottolog None

Yerkish is an artificial language developed for use by non-human primates. It employs a keyboard whose keys contain lexigrams, symbols corresponding to objects or ideas.[1]

A lexigram represents a word but is not necessarily indicative of the object referenced by the word. Lexigrams were notably used by the Georgia State University Language Research Center to communicate with bonobos and chimpanzees. Researchers and primates were able to communicate using lexigram boards made in up to three panels with a total of 384 keys.[1][2]


Lexigram representing Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, a developer of the language

The language was developed by Ernst von Glasersfeld and used by Duane Rumbaugh and Sue Savage-Rumbaugh of Georgia State University while working with primates at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Primates were taught to communicate by means of a lexigram board, a computerized array of keys labeled with lexigrams. Von Glasersfeld coined the term "lexigram" in 1971, created the first 120 of them, and designed the grammar that regulated their combination. This artificial language was called Yerkish in honor of Robert M. Yerkes, the founder of the laboratory within which the lexigrams were first used.

The first ape trained to communicate in Yerkish was the chimpanzee Lana, beginning in 1973 within the context of the LANA project.

See also


  1. ^ a b Interactive Lexigram, History of Ape Language, Great Ape Trust, 2010.
  2. ^ Jeffrey Kluger, "Inside the Minds of Animals", Time, August 5, 2010.


  1. Rumbaugh, D. M. ed. (1977) Language Learning by a Chimpanzee. The LANA Project. New York, Academic Press
  2. von Glasersfeld, E., Department of Psychology, University of Georgia. The Yerkish language for Non-Human Primates. American Journal of Computational Linguistics, 1974, 1.