Yerkish is an artificial language developed for use by non-human primates. Yerkish requires the primates to use a keyboard to punch keys with so called lexigrams, symbols corresponding to objects or ideas. 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 teaching them to communicate by means of lexigram board, a computerized array of keys labeled with lexigrams. The first ape that from 1973 was trained to communicate in Yerkish was Lana.


  • Rumbaugh, D. M. ed. (1977) Language Learning by a Chimpanzee. THE LANA PROJECT. New York, Academic Press
  • von Glasersfeld, E. (1974) The Yerkish language for non-human primates. American Journal of Computational Linguistics, 1974, 1.

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