Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/455

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439
STUDIES OF ANIMAL SPEECH.

would have done better to choose parrots instead of monkeys for his experiments; but as his purpose is to learn the langnage of animals, and not to teach them his own, he has done well to select apes as the objects of his study. It must be confessed, however, that the results of his investigations, embodied in his volume recently published, are rather disappointing, and are, in fact, less comprehensive, although doubtless more accurate, than the observations made by Wenzel at the beginning of the present century. He is prone to lay great stress upon matters that are really of no importance whatever, as, for example, when he discovers that "No," accompanied by a shake of the heads is the sign of negation, and adds, "The fact that this sign is common to both man and simian I regard as more than a mere coincidence, and I believe that in this sign I have found the psycho-physical basis of expression." It is difficult to perceive how a logical thinker could draw such a sweeping conclusion from so slight premises. If he finds that gorillas and chimpanzees in their native wilds, unaffected by human associations, express dissent by shaking their heads and shouting "No!" it will be a fact well worth recording.

Mr. Garner's superiority to his predecesssors in this department of linguistic research consists in the greater excellence of his material rather than of his mental equipment. The possession of the phonograph alone gives him an immense advantage in this respect, by enabling him to record and to repeat the utterances of monkeys with perfect accuracy. Armed with this scientific weapon of phonetic precision and all the instruments and appliances which modern invention has placed at his disposal, he may perhaps completely conquer a province of investigation hitherto but partially explored, and, by making important contributions to zooglottology and working out a system of alphabetical signs for the language of the anthropoid race, become the Cadmus of the simian world.

 


 
A Bengali in India has made a contribution toward the expenses of a "snake laboratory" which it is proposed to establish in Calcutta. The work of the establishment will include the scientific examination of supposed cures for snake-bite, and the investigation of the properties of the snake poison. The laboratory will be the only institution of its kind in the world.

The expedition of Sir William Macgregor to Mount Owen Stanley in New Guinea found a remarkable native bridge spanning the Vanapa River, It is a woven bridge, suspended from trees on each bank, and is similar in every respect to the bridges built by the Malays of Sumatra and the Dyaks of Borneo. The view of it given in Mr. J. P. Thomson's British New Guinea shows it to be au elegant and picturesque structure.