Chomsky vs. Chimpsky: comparing a famous professor — speaking in Toronto tonight — and a famous chimpanzee

Noam Chomsky, famed MIT professor of linguistics and outspoken political activist, is speaking at the University of Toronto tonight and tomorrow. Nim Chimpsky, the first chimpanzee to be taught American sign language, is the subject of Project Nim, a film screening at the upcoming Hot Docs. Going by DNA alone, Chomsky and Chimpsky are 98.7 per cent identical, but we thought it would be a good time to compare legacies.

 

Education

Chomsky: studied at University of Pennsylvania
Chimpsky: was studied at Columbia University

Firsts

Chomsky: first researcher to consider language as part of human cognition
Chimpsky: first chimpanzee to learn American sign language

Speaking

Chomsky: speaking at University of Toronto tonight and tomorrow on “Corporatization of Universities and Academic Freedom,” which is relevant to the controversy surrounding U of T’s Munk School of Global Affairs
Chimpsky: his longest recorded sentence was "Give orange me give eat orange me eat orange give me eat orange give me you."

Writing

Chomsky: author of around 150 books, including Language and Politics, Chomsky on Democracy and Education and Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy
Chimpsky: co-author of a play to be called Hamlet (unfinished)

Fame

Chomsky: arguably the most quoted living scholar, he also had a chimpanzee named after him
Chimpsky: arguably the most quoted chimpanzee in history, he had a plagiarism detection program named after him

Famous quotes

Chomsky: “Human language appears to be a unique phenomenon, without significant analogue in the animal world.”
Chimpsky: “Nut nim nut.”

Party quote

Chomsky: “Colourless green ideas sleep furiously.”
Chimpsky: “Me eat drink more.”

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