This question is specifically about the 2014 film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

In the film, we know that certain non-human apes can speak.

We also know that Caesar was the first of them to do so.

I was wondering if all of the non-human apes can speak and it just isn't shown, or only certain ones can.

In the film, we see these non-human apes (and related species) talk (as far as I remember):

  • Caesar
  • Koba
  • Blue Eyes
  • Maurice (Although only one word I think)

However, these are all very close to Caesar and so he might have taught them to speak. Yet, Caesar was able to teach himself, so others might have been able to as well.

Do we know if all intelligent (affected by the virus) non-human primates can speak or only select ones?

In or out of universe answers are acceptable.

  • Does ">6 billion, because humans are primates and most of us can speak" count as an answer?
    – Wad Cheber
    Jun 21, 2016 at 8:05
  • 1
    And the answer wouldn't be >6 billion, because most of the humans died from the virus in the film. There isn't that many. Jun 21, 2016 at 8:10
  • 2
    "Non-human primates"
    – Wad Cheber
    Jun 21, 2016 at 8:11
  • 3
    I think calling it ape would be good enough within the context of the movie. Caesar distinguishes themselves as ape and humans "not ape". By the movie's definition, that's what ape means. The excuse that "humans are scientifically apes too" is, no offence, just coming across as being smarty pants about it in a grammar-nazi-ish way and unnecessarily complicating things while being aware that everyone knows exactly what OP is referring to. I think the academic definition here is superfluous vs the popular culture definition. Jun 21, 2016 at 8:39
  • 1
    All the ones from chimpan-a to chimpan-z!
    – Paul
    Jul 27, 2018 at 18:25

1 Answer 1


It's been years, but I think I recall Maurice teaching the younglings the English alphabet at the movie's start. I think this is evidence that apes in general are capable of understanding human language at the least.

Apes in general seem to have greater difficulty articulating human speech though, with the exception of Caesar. It may be due to either or both of the following possible reasons:

  • They are simply not evolved enough. Previous movies demonstrated that Caesar had been exposed to the evolution agent differently from the other apes. It was implied that Caesar is more evolved than the others. It is possible that the ability to speak among the common ape will improve as the apes continue to evolve over the generations like we humans once did.
  • They are simply not used to articulating human speech. Even evolved apes prefer to use sign language and "traditional" ape speech among themselves as opposed to speaking Human. Considering that's less complex than Human, it's possible different muscles are used, so we've a case of stiff, unused muscles here. Naturally, in such a scenario, attempting to speak Human is the same as trying to walk after awakening from coma. It takes time to warm up the muscles from hibernation.

That would be possible biological and evolutionary reasons why apes don't speak Human in general, although they seem able to.

  • This is interesting. This reminds me that all (or at least most) apes can understand spoken English. Koba addresses them with spoken English later in the film and they seem to understand him. This answer does quite a good job of explaining your second point. I don't feel this quite answers my question though which is can they all speak? Jun 21, 2016 at 11:22
  • @MattLishman I believe it's implied. Koba was directly experimented on, Maurice only got a sniff, while Caesar (iirc) & Blue Eyes inherited the stuff. In the original universe, the accelerated evolution process continues across generations. If you draw parallels between human history and the apes, the teaching of written Human, and the ability to speak it in individuals of different natures, suggest that all could to some extent and will eventually evolve full Human speech capabilities. Jun 22, 2016 at 9:35
  • That makes sense. So, are you concluding that at the time of the film, all (or at least most) of the apes are capable of of speaking. They simply just don't because it is easier for them to use sign language? That seems a reasonable enough assumption given the information we have. Maybe War of the Planet of the Apes will answer this question! Jun 22, 2016 at 9:52
  • It's mostly educated guesswork on my part. Like I said, either apes in general aren't very good at speaking Human (yet) or they just aren't used to using those muscles. Remember, speaking Human is still a newly discovered ability to them, many of which were unevolved apes some years ago. Jun 22, 2016 at 10:15

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