W. Tecumseh Fitch

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W Tecumseh Fitch
William Tecumseh Sherman Fitch III

Alma materBrown University (B.A., Ph.D.)
Scientific career
  • University of Vienna
  • Harvard University
  • University of St. Andrews
Doctoral advisorPhilip Lieberman

William Tecumseh Sherman Fitch III (born 1963)[1] is an American evolutionary biologist and cognitive scientist at the University of Vienna (Vienna, Austria) where he is co-founder of the Department of Cognitive Biology.

Fitch studies the biology and evolution of cognition and communication in humans and other animals, and in particular the evolution of speech, language and music. His work concentrates on comparative approaches as advocated by Charles Darwin (i.e., the study of homologous and analogous structures and processes in a wide range of species).

Fitch was born in Boston[1] and received his B.A. (1986) in biology and his Ph.D. (1994) in Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences from Brown University. From 1996 to 2000, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at MIT and Harvard University. He was a lecturer at Harvard University and a reader at the University of St Andrews, before moving to a professorship at the University of Vienna in 2009.

He bears the name of his third-generation great-grandfather, Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman, as did his father and grandfather before him.[2]

Ability of monkeys to speak[edit]

Fitch and colleagues used x-ray recordings of a macaque monkey named Emiliano producing various sounds to make a model of Emiliano's vocal tract. The model showed that a macaque could produce a variety of vowel and non-vowel phonemes adequate for intelligible speech. In a simulation, "Emiliano" said "Will you marry me?" in a recognizable manner, demonstrating that the anatomy of monkeys does not limit them from producing complex speech. In conclusion, Fitch stated that "If a human brain were in control, they could talk".[3][4]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Tecumseh Fitch – Academic Website" (PDF). Retrieved 2023-11-30.
  2. ^ "Why monkeys can't talk—and what they would sound like if they could". www.science.org. Retrieved 2022-04-06.
  3. ^ "Why Monkeys Can't Speak Like Us?". 2016-12-21. Archived from the original on 2018-06-17. Retrieved 2018-04-15.
  4. ^ "Why monkeys can't talk—and what they would sound like if they could". 2016-12-09.

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