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CONNECT THE WORLD
Disappearing Languages; The 75th Anniversary of Monopoly
Aired December 31, 2010 - 16:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Hello and welcome to this special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD.
I'm Becky Anderson in London.
Well, over the past year, we've brought you stories from every corner of the globe. And tonight, we want to return to some of our most popular segments.
So, from a world famous board game to dolphins that recognize themselves in the mirror, this is the best of CONNECT THE WORLD.
We want to begin with something that literally connects and divides us all and that is language. This planet is home to nearly 7,000 different tongues and an alarming statistic -- half of those are dying out. Experts estimate languages are disappearing at the rate of one every two weeks around the world. Busuu in Cameroon is among the 400 languages close to extinction, meaning there are just a handful of speakers left.
Also endangered, Lipan Apache in the Southwest U.S. and Chiapaneco in Mexico. Also, Wajigu (ph) in Australia. It's estimated that up to 90 percent of the world's languages could be gone by the end of the century.
We want to look at some that are bucking that trend, as well. We begin in Beijing, where Mandarin is on the rise, despite how difficult it is to learn.
Here's John Vause.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So the theory goes something like this -- China is rising so quickly, its economy growing so fast, this century belongs to the Chinese. And anyone who wants to succeed, especially in business, had better start speaking their language.
All well and good for these young students at an international school in Beijing, because they can easily work out the four different tones which form the basis of Mandarin, the standard Chinese widely spoken on the mainland.
HUNTER SHANG, CHINESE LANGUAGE TEACHER: Put them together, bah...
VAUSE (on camera): Yes?
SHANG: Isham ba, a second ba, the third ba and the fourth ba.
VAUSE (voice-over): If you missed that, don't worry, because the older you get, the harder it gets for most people.
JACK PERKOWSKI, CONSULTANT: I've been here since 1993.
VAUSE (on camera): How much Chinese do you speak?
PERKOWSKI: I learn one word every year. So I'm up to about 15 or 16 words.
VAUSE: You've got a long way to go.
(voice-over): For Jack Perkowski, once described as Mr. China because of his enthusiasm for doing business here, language can be outsourced.
(on camera): Now, they've put a newsstand stand here.
VAUSE: So we have all these Chinese figures here. You've been here since 1993.
You can't read a word of this, can you?
PERKOWSKI: I can look at the pictures but I can't read the words.
For me to take the time to really learn Chinese in any way that I can begin to use it, in a business sense, would just be way too long.
VAUSE (voice-over): And that's the rub -- learning Mandarin is a full-time job -- OK if you're a school kid, not so good for businessmen. And besides...
DEB FALLOWS, AUTHOR, "DREAMING IN CHINESE": I think it's very unlikely that -- that Mandarin will replace English as the world's lingua franca. There are just so many more English speakers in the world and so many fewer opportunities to learn Chinese and -- and master it.
VAUSE: Anyway, during the '80s, weren't we told to learn Japanese?
And look how that worked out.
John Vause, CNN, Beijing.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ANDERSON: Well, in Beirut, a movement is underway to save the country's official language. The Lebanese are proud polyglots, many also speaking fluent French and English.
And as Rima Maktabi now reports, when it comes to their mother tongue, it seems some are now finding Arabic a little passe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, let's go.
RIMA MAKTABI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is how many Lebanese speak.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a man whose French educated (INAUDIBLE).
(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) MAKTABI: Three different languages -- English, Arabic and French -- within the same sentence.
(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
MAKTABI: Lebanon has been a multi-lingual country since early in the 19th century. French and British missionaries established schools and introduced Western languages. Later, with French colonization, the country became a nation of Francophiles.
Now, this diversity leads many to think that the Arabic language is threatened.
NABIL DAJANI, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF BEIRUT: It is threatened not because the language is incapable of adapting and hastening the development. It is threatened because of an inferiority complex that the Arabs have to their language. We're not willing to put an effort to develop our language according to the needs -- business needs and developmental needs of the society. We're lazy.
MAKTABI: However, many Lebanese are proud that their children are bilingual or even trilingual, like Nayla Fahed, a Lebanese mother of three who hardly speak their mother tongue.
NAYLA FAHED, LEBANESE MOTHER: I think they have the chance to live in a country where they can learn three languages. And I would like them to speak both fairly well.
SARAH JANE, DAUGHTER: I'm in a French school and I talk Arabic, but I talk French better than Arabic.
FAHED: Classical languages may be threatened. And we have to find ways to revive it. But the Lebanese talking language, I don't think it's threatened. I think it's just moving.
MAKTABI: Lately, there have been efforts to revive the language and make it more appealing.
SUZANNE TALHOUK, PRESIDENT, FEIL AMER: Our alphabet...
MAKTABI: Suzanne Talhouk, a civics major who has published two books of poetry, is one of the staunch enthusiasts of Arabic language. She founded Feil Amer, meaning Act Now, an organization that works on preserving the Arabic language in Lebanon.
TALHOUK: We want to celebrate our language.
By saying to people that we can produce arts, we can produce movies, we can produce theater, we can produce songs, we can produce everything in our language. And the big thing is connecting the Arabic language with what is contemporary.
MAKTABI: The organization put together a festival that showcased 150 artists in dance and drama, along with a major media campaign that had the title, "Don't Kill Your Language."
However, for some, events like this are not enough. Many people say government and civil society need to work together to bolster the Arabic curriculum in schools, revive the Arabic language and make it appealing to the new generation.
Rima Maktabi, CNN, Beirut, Lebanon.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ANDERSON: Up next, from ancient tongues to brand new ones, we're going to take a look at the ever changing way that we speak to each other.
ANDERSON: Across the world, you'll hear 7,000 languages spoken, some going strong, some heading into oblivion and others not going without a fight, like Yiddish.
CNN's Paula Hancocks shows us the rich cultural connections this language offers modern day Israelis.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Coen Brothers' latest hit, "A Serious Man," conjures up memories of Yiddish, early 20th century Poland, showing the hard life many Jews lived in Eastern Europe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "SERIOUS MAN," COURTESY FOCUS FEATURES)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mother?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes?
Can you help me with the ice?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANCOCKS: Moving to Israel, most Jews began speaking Hebrew, leaving behind Yiddish and its negative associations with the ghettos of Eastern Europe.
(SPEAKING IN YIDDISH)
HANCOCKS: Not so for Daniel Galay. Playing what he calls the Yiddish music, he talks of the rich cultural identity. This Israeli composer and writer is one of the champions of restoring Yiddish to its former glory.
DANIEL GALAY, YIDDISH WRITER: Yiddish has a lot of emotions. Yiddish has a lot of wisdom. Yiddish has a lot of experience -- a thousand years in Europe, different countries, different regimes, Yiddish is the identity and history, also, of this country. It's not just a language and literature, it's the history. It belongs to this place.
HANCOCKS: These Israelis would agree, spending the evening at a Yiddish theater in Herzliya to watch a one woman show, ironically, by an actress that doesn't actually speak Yiddish.
ANAT ATZMON, ACTRESS: I think that it's very important to keep this language, because it's -- it's our language. It's part of our tradition, part of our history, part of us.
HANCOCKS: Some ultra-Orthodox Jews still speak Yiddish within their families and communities. But many secular Jews who spoke it were killed in the Holocaust.
(SPEAKING IN YIDDISH)
HANCOCKS: But don't try telling these sixth graders it's a dying language. For these children, learning Yiddish is fun and optional.
NATI STERN, PRINCIPAL, TEL NORDAU SCHOOL: The pupils regard it with a huge amount of enthusiasm. They enjoyed -- enjoyed it and they still do. And they speak Yiddish. They -- they sing Yiddish. Sometimes it's even -- I even think they think Yiddish.
CHANA POLLINGALAY, YIDDISH TEACHER: People didn't want to talk about Yiddish. They didn't want to admit that they spoke Yiddish or that their neighbors spoke Yiddish or that they went to Yiddish plays. And so there's this kind of secret, this elephant in the room that's been passed down through generations in Israel. And some of this secret was transmitted to children who are now in fifth or sixth grade.
LIALA AVITAL, STUDENT, TEL NORDAU SCHOOL: We're making performance and it's not only learning Yiddish, it's -- we're making fun things, just in Yiddish.
HANCOCKS: Interest from the younger generation in a language considered of the oldest generation is surely a way to keep it alive.
Paula Hancocks, CNN, Jerusalem.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ANDERSON: Well, with nearly 7,000 languages spoken on the planet, you'd think that that would be enough. But from efforts to create a common dialect to giving aliens something to say, new ones are being formed all the time.
Phil Han looks at how Hollywood can get us rather tongue-tied.
PHIL HAN, CNN DIGITAL PRODUCER (on camera): Take the popular "Star Trek" series and the term "Klingon" naturally comes to mind. Thousands of people around the world are learning and literally speaking Klingon on a daily basis. There's even a Klingon Language Institute that claims to have thousands of members in more than 45 countries around the globe. They offer language camps, how-to guides and someone has even translated Shakespeare's very own "Hamlet" into Klingon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): To be or not to be. That is the question.
HAN: And if you thought that wasn't odd enough, Klingon die-hards have even taken a stab at singing.
(SINGING IN KLINGON)
HAN: And earlier this year, the world's first ever Klingon opera opened in the Netherlands. And its creators even sent a special message into space, in the hopes the Klingon race would hear it.
(SPEAKING IN KLINGON)
HAN: But it's not just Trekkies that take a fancy to learning foreign languages. Many "Lord of the Rings" fans have also learned Elvish, based on the popular Elf characters, like Legolas and Arwen. There are dozens of how-to guides on YouTube, which have been viewed by tens of thousands of people. And even actress Liv Tyler still speaks it today.
(LIV TYLER SPEAKING ELVISH)
HAN: And, of course, who can forget the biggest movie of all time, the story of aliens on a distant planet who speak Navi, have grossed almost $2 billion at the box office and has brought with it a devoted legion of fans that love all things "Avatar"-related. James Cameron even hired a professor in linguistics to specially design the language to make it seem real.
Comedian Conan O'Brien has even taken a stab at making fun of this made-up dialect.
CONAN O'BRIEN, COMEDIAN (through translator): And it wasn't that hard to learn. Pretty cool, huh Andy?
ANDY RICHTER, COMEDIAN (through translator): And I thought I was the only one who spoke Navi!
HAN: Saying "good-bye" in Klingon, "Qapla'."
ANDERSON: Coming up next, do not pass go, do not collect $200 or pounds or yen. This year marked the 75th anniversary of the classic board game, Monopoly. And we're going to show you how it's adapted and enjoyed all over the world. That is just ahead.
ANDERSON: Welcome back to this special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD.
I'm Becky Anderson in London for you.
Now, living one some of the world's most expensive streets may not fit into your budget in real life, but for 75 years, one of the most famous board games in the world has made it possible. On November the 5th, 1935, the American company, Parker Brothers, marketed a game called Monopoly for the first time. And all these years later, the classic game is still entertaining and frustrating millions of us.
Well, this story actually inspired a lively discussion in our newsroom. It turns out that since many of us grew up with the game, many of us also grew up thinking the version we played was the same one that everybody else played. Not so.
For example, in the United States, where Monopoly was invented, the game is set in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and the most expensive property is Boardwalk. The British version is played in England and the former colonies, including Australia and India. Players there set their sights on the posh neighborhood of Mayfair.
In France, the game is set in Paris and it pays to own Rue de la Paix.
And the Japanese actually use an American version, with the word "Boardwalk" written in Japanese characters.
But across the world, the variations go far beyond the property names. We've got reports for you tonight from Russia, China, Cuba and Jerusalem.
But we begin with some of the most competitive monopolists in the world.
Here's Kyung Lah in Japan.
KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Monopoly is more than just a board game in Japan.
I'm Kyung Lah in Tokyo.
This is still one of the top-selling board games here, 40 years after it was first imported.
But there are so many hardcore fans that there's a Japan Monopoly Association. There's even a yearly national championship and it's fierce. These four you're looking at are Japan's top players. Just one qualified for the world championship in Las Vegas. Now, in honor of the 75th anniversary, Takara-Tomy, who makes the Japanese version, is holding a design contest. And you can see, these designs are uniquely Japanese, from one on the natural hot springs, the bubble economy, anime, to "find me a wife." Whoever wins the contest gets a board designed in his or her honor.
So in this highly digitized society, how can a board game still be so popular?
Because this is one of the few moments where you can have an analog time to communicate.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Matthew Chance in Moscow, where the game of Monopoly has an unusual history. Up until 1988, it was banned in what was then the Soviet Union for ideological reasons, the Kremlin discouraging its Communist citizens from playing such a capitalist board game.
Since the Soviet collapse, though, it's gained in popularity. There's a version with Russian street names and a token in the shape of a bear instead of a boot. Most popular, though, are these new Russian children's versions, this one called "My First Monopoly." The company clearly hoping a whole new generation of Russians will be converted into little capitalists. Lenin and Marx would have been appalled.
STAN GRANT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the Monopoly China version. We've searched all over town for this. And it comes at a price tag of about 400 yuan, roughly about U.S. $70. This is actually the second one we bought. We bought an earlier one and it was missing all the cash and the cards and the dice. I assume that's the recession version.
The famous Monopoly board. You're not going to see Kings Cross or Euston or Piccadilly on this one. What you do see is Shenyang, Jian, Wuxi, Pyanjo (ph), Shenzhen, of course, where China's capitalism, I suppose, really started.
So here, of course, is the money. Now, this is in Chinese renminbi. And, of course, the undervalued currency, if you listen to the Americans and others. If they had their way, we take 20 percent of that and throw it away.
Remember the old pieces that you used to use?
There was a car and there was boat and there was, famously, a shoe. Well, now you have rollerblades and you have a mobile phone and a laptop. I'll start with the car. So put the car here on Go, Chinese Monopoly.
Look at that. Eight. I've landed on Shiyan, price tag -- one million yuan.
The most famous capitalist game comes to Communist China. As Deng Xiaoping famously said, "Getting rich is glorious."
I'm Stan Grant in Beijing.
SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Shasta Darlington in Havana. Monopoly had a big following here in Cuba until Fidel Castro came to power. According to popular myth, he outlawed the game and ordered all known sets destroyed.
We couldn't actually find proof of that, but it is true that it disappeared off of toy store shelves.
It was replaced by this game here, a Cuban invention called Eternal Debt. Now, here, the goal isn't to amass property and wealth. Instead, the players are Third World countries and what they're trying to do is topple the IMF.
Now, in this game, you won't be sent to jail, but you could land on this space here and then you'd be toppled by a military coup.
There are two stacks of cards that you get draw from. One is called "IMF Conditions." If you draw this card, for example, it's time to pay up. Interests on your IMF loans have just gone up.
Over here, these are the "Solidarity" cards. If you get this one, you get to collect $300 because Colombia has just given you a gift of a coffee shipment. This one here says El Salvador is paying all of the players $200 to help finance their freedom fighters.
Now the game did catch on in Argentina, as well, but even here in Cuba, it was never quite as popular as the traditional Monopolio.
ANDERSON: So even in places where playing Monopoly is discouraged, people have found ways to enjoy the game. That's also been true throughout history, when similar games have provided life lessons and distractions from the outside world.
CNN's Kevin Flower met two men in Jerusalem who played Monopoly under terrifying circumstances just a few years after it was invented.
KEVIN FLOWER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are not your ordinary Monopoly players.
(on camera): So this is the -- this is the game?
DAN GLASS, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: This is the game, yes.
MICHA PAVEL GLASS, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: Monopoly from Theresienstadt.
FLOWER (voice-over): Brothers Micha and Dan Glass were happy schoolchildren in 1938, until the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia a year later turned their lives upside down.
(on camera): Your world changed?
M. GLASS: Completely. It changed completely.
D. GLASS: You can't understand. It's no -- no. Everything changed.
FLOWER (voice-over): The boys were sent to Terezin, a Nazi-run Jewish ghetto, and for tens of thousands of Jews, a first stop en route to the death camps further east. Amidst the horrors, a Jewish artist designed a makeshift version of a famed board game and the unofficial yet recognizable Ghetto Monopoly was born.
M. GLASS: The buildings, the huge buildings, the big buildings, we are named after German cities. So we have Hamburg, Magdeburg and so on. And these are the properties.
FLOWER (voice-over): Fashioned from cardboard and drawn by hand, the game was made as a distraction for Terezin's thousands of children and used as a tool to teach them about life and death in the ghetto.
Transactions were conducted with worthless paper money and the game's board pieces and properties served as a grim reflection of the reality faced by the camp's prisoners, where over 35,000 died in subhuman conditions.
Sima Shachar is a researcher who has studied life in the Terezin ghetto. The care and attention adult prisoners paid to children, she says, was an important way for them to maintain a sense of humanity and purpose.
SIMA SHACHAR, BEIT THERESIENSTADT: Maybe give some kind of happiness to create such a game like Monopoly. For a little bit, you can forget from everything. But you are coming back to the reality at the end.
FLOWER (voice-over): The brothers Glass survived that reality, and with them, they took their game. Fifteen years ago, they donated it to Israel's Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem, so the world could see and remember.
M. GLASS: Because there are many, many people that they think that there was not a Holocaust. And we had a very happy family before the war. And after the war, there was nothing.
FLOWER (voice-over): For both brothers, the game brings up difficult and painful memories. But through it all, they are able to see the silver lining.
(on camera): What is it that was -- that was good about it?
D. GLASS: That was good?
That I'm standing here with my brother. And what I told you, that I have a family, a big, loving family.
FLOWER (voice-over): Two survivors who hope a game will help people remember.
Kevin Flower, CNN, Jerusalem.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ANDERSON: Well, most people in the world probably have at least a few Monopoly memories. And in honor of its 75th birthday, we asked you to tell us about your experiences with the classic game.
Just take a look at the what one of our iReporters sent in.
This is a larger than life sized Monopoly board in San Jose in California. It's Web site says it's the world's biggest version of the world's most popular board game. It can even be hired for private events, for about $300, we're told. That's real U.S. currency, not Monopoly money.
All right, coming up, they can't read or write, but don't ignore how smart they can be -- intelligence in the animal kingdom, just ahead.
ANDERSON: Welcome back to this special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson in London for you. Now, abstract thinking, language skills, even a sense of self and time. We humans, of course, have these capabilities. But you may be surprised to know that we're not alone.
Over the next half hour, we're going to take you inside the minds of the smartest animals on Earth. And we begin under water. Randi Kaye has the story for you.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Spend a day with a dolphin, and you're quickly reminded of why they've always captured our imaginations. They are playful, sociable, and just incredibly fun to be around.
But scientists say there's a lot more to these animals, and they're just beginning to understand the intricate thinking of these so-called big- brained mammals.
KAYE (on camera): Here you go, Nani! Good girl! We came here to the Baltimore Aquarium to see just how intelligent dolphins are. You see them playing with their trainers all the time. But scientists who study them say there's a lot more happening there than just play, that their intelligence actually rivals ours. Here you go!
KAYE (voice-over): To see up close what has scientists so excited, we climbed down into a tiny underwater lab with a window into the aquarium, where scientist Diana Reiss puts a two-way mirror up against the glass. The dolphins can't see us, but Reiss can study how the dolphins react to the mirror.
DIANA REISS, SCIENTIST, UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK: We used to think we were the only species on the planet that could think. And now, we know that we're amongst many thinking species. So, the questions are no longer, "Can they think?" But "How do they think?" And what's amazing in this capacity, with giving them mirrors, it looks like they're doing a lot of things very similar to us.
KAYE (voice-over): Reiss has been studying dolphins' behavior for 25 years.
REISS: Most animals don't even pay attention to mirrors. So, if you put a mirror in front of your dog, most dogs won't even look in a mirror. Cats don't pay much attention. Other animals do pay attention, but never figure out it's themselves. They think it's another of their own kind.
KAYE (voice-over): But dolphins do figure it out.
REISS: And not only do they figure out that it's them, but they show interest to look at themselves. So, one thing is to understand it's themselves, it's a whole other thing to say, "I want to look at myself. I want to -- let me see what my face looks like, or what does it look like when I turn upside down and blow a bubble?"
KAYE (voice-over): We sat in awe as this group of dolphins explored themselves before us, unable to ignore the mirror. Several did hang upside down.
REISS (whispering): He's upside down. He's going to get wild, now. He's being very innovative. Watch this. Big show.
KAYE (voice-over): Other dolphins open their mouth and stuck their tongue out. They put their eye on the mirror to get an even closer look.
Not convinced a dolphin can recognize itself in the mirror? Take a look at this video of an earlier experiment from 2001. Scientists marked this dolphin on the side with a black pen, but did not mark the other. When released, the dolphin with the mark swims directly to the mirror and turns the mark towards the mirror, like he's trying to take a look at what's been done to him. The unmarked dolphin doesn't show the same behavior.
Dolphins aren't the only big-brained mammals who recognize themselves. Elephants do, too. Watch what happens when Reiss tested them at the Bronx Zoo. This one, with a white X marked on his face, turns toward the mirror, over and over, to take a look.
Back at the Baltimore Aquarium, Reiss is now focusing her research on younger dolphins.
REISS: Beau is five.
KAYE (voice-over): Just like human children, younger dolphins make lots of movements and watch their reflection. They quickly learn they are watching themselves.
KAYE (on camera): What are you trying to figure out with the younger dolphins?
REISS: We're trying to figure out when -- at what age, at what developmental age, do they start figuring out that it's them in the mirror, and when are they showing interest in the mirror.
KAYE (voice-over): Foster, who is three, started recognizing himself in the mirror about the same time toddlers do, when he was about a year and a half. Reiss says some dolphins pick up on it at just six months, much earlier than children.
REISS (whispering): This is Spirit. Now Spirit's testing this. She's still figuring this out. And what's funny is, we recognize this because it's so similar to what kids do, what chimps do, it's amazing. They go through the same stages. These are animals that have been separated from us for 95 million years of evolution. Big brains, processing things in similar ways.
KAYE (voice-over): With a mirror providing a window into the dolphins' minds, Reiss believes she is discovering that their super-high levels of intelligence are in many ways much like our own. And, if that's true, the question is, what does that tell us?
REISS: In the end, what this tells us is that we need to look at these animals in a new light, with a new respect, and really provide much more protection in terms of conservation efforts and welfare efforts for these animals. And also appreciate that we're not at the top anymore. We're not alone. We're surrounded by other intelligences.
KAYE (on camera): Oh, wow. So smooth. Beautiful.
KAYE (voice-over): Remember the old saying, that it always seems like dolphins are smiling at you? Well, maybe they are. Randi Kaye, CNN, Baltimore.
ANDERSON: Well, self-awareness, it's an important capability. So, too, an ability to count. And turns out, basic math skills aren't unique to human brains, either. Again, here's Randi Kaye.
KAYE (voice-over): The first thing you notice about lemurs are their eyes. They are big and wide and full of curiosity.
KAYE (on camera): There you go. You are just the sweetest little thing. What are you thinking? That's what we're here to find out. What's going on in that little brain of yours?
KAYE (voice-over): That's what scientists at Duke University's Lemur Center are trying to figure out. And so far, they are pretty impressed. They say lemurs are deep thinkers who understand numbers and sequencing, even abstract thinking.
KAYE (on camera): Here at Duke, they have the largest captive collection of lemurs in the world. Lemurs have actually received a lot less attention than apes and monkeys when it comes to researching how they think. But the folks here at the Duke Lemur Center are looking into how lemurs think because they believe that they can offer some insight into how our primate ancestors actually thought about 75 million years ago. Isn't that right?
KAYE (voice-over): Duke University professor, Elizabeth Brannon, heads up the lemur research here.
ELIZABETH BRANNON, PROFESSOR, DUKE UNIVERSITY: Hey, Pedro. Thanks for helping out today.
KAYE (voice-over): She said lemurs are so sophisticated when it comes to numbers, they rival monkeys. And like human babies, lemurs understand numbers without actually understanding language.
We got to see for ourselves how smart lemurs are. My jaw dropped as I watched these primates from Madagascar take tests on a computer. This lemur had learned to recognize which square has more red dots.
He uses his nose, and if he picks the right one, which he mostly does, a sugar pellet drops down. Lemurs love sweets.
BRANNON: We're asking, can the lemur learn an abstract rule about numbers? Can the lemur learn that he always has to chose the smaller number or the larger number and apply this to pictures he's had no training on.
KAYE (voice-over): In this next test, the lemur has to work from memory. Before the computer test, the lemur was shown seven pictures, but he never saw all the pictures together.
Scientists want to know if he can remember which pictures came first in the sequence when he's shown just two of those pictures on the computer screen in now particular order. Can lemur's think abstractly and infer things they haven't been taught directly?
BRANNON: We're teaching him that one picture, picture A, comes before picture B, and that picture B comes before picture C, and we want to know whether he can figure out the relationship between pictures A and C.
KAYE (voice-over): Professor Brannon says this lemur successfully memorized the relationship between the pictures and still remembered it for this test, even though he hadn't seen the pictures in the last two years.
BRANNON: For a long time, it was thought that lemurs weren't capable of doing a lot of things that other primates were in the cognitive domain. So, in some ways, this is surprising, how well they're able to do in this task.
KAYE (voice-over): What else surprised Professor Brannon? That lemurs, like humans, avoid risk.
BRANNON: We figured out that they really don't like to gamble.
KAYE (voice-over): How does she know? Because in this test, lemurs are taught that if they choose the photograph of the train, they could get a bunch of sugar pellets as a reward, or possibly no pellets at all.
But if they choose the safe option, the flag photo, they always get one pellet. Brannon says lemurs are smart enough to make an association between the photograph and the outcome.
There are exceptions. But even when the risky choice will sometimes deliver more treats, most lemurs prefer the safer option, the photo that guarantees them one treat.
BRANNON: Even if we give them six, seven, or eight pellets in the jackpot, they still prefer a single pellet, even though the average payoff is much greater in the risky side.
KAYE (voice-over): Why does any of this matter? Professor Brannon says it can help humans figure out how our thinking evolved.
BRANNON: What are the fundamental building blocks upon which complex human cultures and systems of knowledge are built? And by studying these kinds of thought processes in lemurs and monkeys and apes and other animals, we can begin to shed insight into that kind of question.
KAYE (voice-over): And while Professor Brannon doesn't expect lemurs to be learning calculus anytime soon, she does believe we've only scratched the surface of their amazing intelligence. Randi Kaye, CNN, Durham, North Carolina.
ANDERSON: Coming up next, if you think humans are the only species who can hold an intelligent conversation, think gain.
ANDERSON: You're watching a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson. Tonight, we're looking at intelligence in the animal kingdom. Humans already have a lot in common with great apes. We share more than 95 percent of our DNA with them. But do we also share the ability to communicate? Well, Anderson Cooper put that to the test as he went to meet a pair of bonobos, one of the lesser-known great apes. Take a look at this.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meet Kanzi and his younger half-sister, Panbanisha. They're bonobos, cousins to the chimpanzee and an endangered species. Kanzi and Panbanisha are also superstars in the world of science.
DR. SUE SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH, GREAT APE TRUST: Are you happy, Kanzi?
COOPER (voice-over): Some scientists believe they can understand spoken English and can communicate by pointing and gesturing.
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: Let's show Sue peanuts.
COMPUTER VOICE: Peanut.
COOPER (voice-over): Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh discovered Kanzi's capabilities nearly three decades ago and, since then, has dedicated her life to studying how early and constant exposure impacts language development.
To do that, she's created a culture here at the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa that's both human and bonobo. She spends nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week, interacting with the species.
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: It is truly a humbling experience, because I have, throughout my life, been like a skeptic. And for many years, even now, I have underestimated them.
Show me egg.
COMPUTER VOICE: Egg.
COOPER (voice-over): As Kanzi's language comprehension grew, so did this. It's called a lexigram board. Each lexigram represents a word, objects like "Jell-O" and "ball," verbs like "want" and "drink," and the abstract, like "good" and "bad," "tomorrow" and "yesterday." There are 400 words on the board.
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: Can you touch your hand now, Kanzi?
COOPER (voice-over): When I come face-to-face with Kanzi and Panbanisha, we're separated by glass for my own safety. Bonobos are amazingly strong -- at least five times more powerful than the average adult male.
COMPUTER VOICE: Thank you.
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: He said "ball." Did you see him say "ball," Anderson?
COOPER (on camera): Yes.
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: You can ask him. If you didn't see it, you can ask him to say it again.
COOPER: What's "ball?"
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: Show him again.
COOPER: Where's the ball? That one?
COOPER (voice-over): Immediately, Kanzi gets down to business.
COOPER (on camera): You want to look out there?
COOPER (voice-over): I've been told that bonobos had asked that I bring surprises when they learned I was coming to visit. They wanted, among other things, a ball and pine needles.
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: Are you ready? You ready? OK.
COOPER (voice-over): Once Kanzi's content with his ball, Panbanisha points to pine needles on her lexigram board. And then, things get, well, weird.
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: Panbanisha, who's going to get the surprises? The bunny.
COOPER (on camera): Bunny?
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: The bunny is going to get the surprises, did you know that, Anderson?
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: What's the bunny going to do with the surprises?
COOPER: Who's the bunny?
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: Who's the bunny?
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: Who should be the bunny? Bunny -- is you!
COOPER: I'm the bunny?
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: You are the bunny.
COOPER: How am I the bunny?
COOPER (voice-over): Before I know it, I'm presented with a costume.
COOPER (on camera): You want me to dress up like the bunny? It's OK?
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: Should we get the bunny?
COOPER (voice-over): And I'm escorted off to go put it on. I wasn't sure if I should do this, but I remembered the advice we were given before arriving, be laid back and see where it goes.
COOPER (on camera): Oh, a bib. The bunny has a big.
COOPER: So, apparently, one of the chimps, Panbanisha, likes bunnies and asked me to dress as a bunny, which was the big surprise, and get one of the presents that she had requested.
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: Hi, Mr. Bunny!
COOPER (voice-over): Where did the bunny suit come from? Well, Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh used to make video skits for Panbanisha and Kanzi as they grew up to help them learn language through lexigrams.
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: I wonder what's in here, Panbanisha.
COOPER (voice-over): Turns out the bunny is Panbanisha's favorite character from those video skits.
COOPER (voice-over): That's why I'm now in this ridiculous costume.
COOPER (on camera): They wanted pine needles and eggs, green beans -- string beans, and bread and -- ice? OK. Great. So, I bring this whole cart in?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take the whole cart in.
COOPER: This is pretty much the strangest assignment that I've ever had. Nobody laugh.
Hello. Presents. I brought you presents. Surprises. Lots of surprises.
COOPER (voice-over): Among the surprises, lots of food, something Kanzi's clearly interested in.
COOPER (on camera): What about this one?
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: What's that one, Kanzi?
COOPER: That's bread.
COOPER: And -- what are these?
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: What are those, Kanzi?
COOPER: Pine needles.
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: Pine needles.
COOPER: That's right.
Clearly, some people will see this and say that you're projecting onto them, that you're interpreting things they say and they -- they make a sound and you say, "Oh, well, this means that." Is that a fair criticism?
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: It's a fair criticism until I can show what every single sound means. But it's not a fair criticism when it comes to the lexigrams. I can say the English word and they can find the photo, even a novel photo they've never seen. And they can find the lexigram on their keyboard. So, while I haven't yet penetrated their sound system, I have penetrated their cognitive system.
COOPER (voice-over): And to take our understanding to the next level, Dr. Savage-Rumbaugh's turning to the next generation.
COOPER (on camera): Wow. Hey.
COOPER (voice-over): Meet Kanzi's four-month-old son, Teco. He's the first bonobo to be exposed only to the language speaking bonobos and everything human.
COOPER (on camera): He has his own iPad.
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: This is his favorite one, and this is the one that he first learned to activate.
COOPER: So you think, by being exposed to people from the earliest age, and the culture of humans, that he actually may surpass the others in terms of his ability to communicate?
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: Yes. The others have been exposed to language, but not Cub Scouts, not going out to a restaurant.
COOPER (voice-over): She doesn't want to divorce him from the bonobo world altogether, but believes he could expand their world and give us humans a window into theirs. That's only if we don't wipe them out first.
Bonobos are found only in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where ongoing violence threatens their existence. Conservation International says there are only about 5,000 bonobos left in the wild.
SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH: We can solve a lot of things. A lot of puzzles about ourselves by looking at bonobos as they exist now. And if we wipe them out, those answers are lost to us forever.
COOPER (voice-over): Anderson Cooper, CNN.
ANDERSON: Well, still to come, it wouldn't be a segment on intelligent animals without this next one. Why dogs may be even better friends than we had thought. That is just ahead, here on CONNECT THE WORLD.
ANDERSON: Welcome back to this special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson. Over the past half hour, we've shown you the amazing intelligence of dolphins, of lemurs, and of bonobos. But this part of the show wouldn't be complete without a look at man's best friend. Once again for you, here is Randi Kaye.
KAYE (voice-over): If you've ever wondered what's really going on behind those puppy dog eyes, this may be the guy to tell you.
BRIAN HARE, DIRECTOR, DUKE UNIVERSITY CANINE COGNITION CENTER: Good boy. Good boy.
KAYE: Professor Brian Hare, the director of Duke University's Canine Cognition Center, is one of only a few people in the country who study how dogs think. Professor Hare and his team put pups through a series of games similar to those you might play with young children.
HARE: We don't want to look at cute pet tricks. What we want to know is, what does the dog understand about its world?
KAYE (on camera): For years, researchers didn't even study dogs. They thought they were too domesticated. Brian says that's exactly why dogs do need to be studied. For 15 years, he's been analyzing how dogs think. What surprised him most, he says, is that dogs have figured out how to read human behavior better than any other species, even chimpanzees.
HARE: The way they think about their world is that people are super important, and they can solve almost any problem if they rely on people.
KAYE: How do dogs think compared to children?
HARE: Probably around 12 months, young children start using -- relying on their adult's gestures and they start making gestures themselves. And that's at about the point where it looks like dogs have that -- a sort of a similar level of flexibility.
KAYE (voice-over): Watch this. I just met Tassy, Professor Hare's dog, a few minutes before this test. When we both point to a cup which may hold a treat...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ready, set, push.
KAYE (voice-over): Will she trust me, a stranger, or her owner?
KAYE (on camera): Oh, I'm crushed.
HARE: That's my boy.
KAYE: How can he --
HARE: That's my boy.
KAYE: Trust you over me?
KAYE (voice-over): Over and over, Tassy chooses her owner's gestures.
HARE: He's grown up with me. We do lots of stuff together. He's never met you before. And so, he says, "Look, if they're both telling me where to go, I'm going to trust the guy that I'm with all the time.
KAYE (voice-over): Dogs are complex social animals who understand they have different relationships with different people.
HARE: They really narrow in and pay attention to you, and they want to know what is it about the world that you can help them with?
KAYE (voice-over): Because, let's face it, dogs can't solve every problem...
HARE: Hey, here's the food.
KAYE (voice-over): When a treat is hidden inside an opaque tube, this Gordon Setter can't see it, but figures out right away she can reach the treat by going around to the side. But watch what happens when the tube is switched.
KAYE (voice-over): And the dog can see the treat. She forgets how easy it was to get just moments before. You might call it a doggie meltdown.
HARE: Oh. OK. Here you go, you got it.
KAYE: We tried the same test on Napoleon, a Yorkshire Terrier.
KAYE (on camera): OK, let's see how you do. All right, here's your treat. Put it in a clear cylinder. OK.
KAYE: Oh. You are impressive, my little friend.
HARE: And a lot of times the best solution requires a bit of a detour. And so, what this says is that Pole is able to sort of take a detour -- a mental detour, and realize, wait a second, even though it looks like that's the shortcut easy answer, it's the wrong thing to do.
KAYE (voice-over): Researchers here are studying dogs to better understand their limitations by identifying why they make mistakes. They believe they can make them better at working with people with disabilities or working with the military.
Professor Hare says domestication has made dogs smarter. So smart, in fact, they're even able to understand the principle of connectivity.
HARE: They know that they're connected on a leash, and it's, "Well, now I have to listen, because if I don't do what you say, you can stop me. Whereas, if I'm not on a leash, well, yes, I know the command, but I don't have to listen to you now."
KAYE (on camera): How do you know that?
HARE: Well --
KAYE: From studying them?
HARE: Yes. If you have --
KAYE: Not through these tests.
HARE: It's from owning a dog.
KAYE (voice-over): Just like children, he says, dogs also understand they can misbehave when you turn your back, even after you told them not to do something.
HARE: And you're really upset because your dog disobeyed you, and you think the dog's not obedient. Well, no, no, no. Your dog was obedient, but it realized that it could get away with it.
KAYE (voice-over): Like it or not, researchers have figured out dogs use their skills to manipulate the world and those of us in it. So, next time you catch yourself thinking you are the master, look your dog straight in the eye. Chances are, he is thinking the same thing. Randi Kaye, CNN, Durham, North Carolina.
ANDERSON: And Becky Anderson. Thanks for watching this special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD, with some of the most popular segments of the year.
Normally, at the end of each show, we bring you what we call our Parting Shots, amazing photos or a piece of video from that day. So, as we wrap up 2010, we thought it was only appropriate to round up the best Parting Shots of the year, as well. We'll leave you with those, now. Good night.