Do animals speak regional languages?

When we think of our animals talking, we normally have an image of a Disney musical where they all get along, they all understand each other and have a good ol’ sing and dance about it. And that’s what happens when we turn our backs, right? Well, that idea isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds (apart from maybe the animal musical part) as animals do all communicate with each other without us knowing. However, there is one problem – they might not understand each other’s accents.


Animalistic communication

At the end of the day, humans are animals (although some would argue some more so than others) and we are all able to communicate in our own ways. As humans, we learn to communicate over time, and are able to do so because of our genetic makeup – why else do we have a voice box? It takes years of learning through our parents and others around us to pick up language and communication skills. However, many animals are born with the inherent ability to be able to communicate amongst each other as soon as they are born as this is part of their own genetic code. In the group of species that learn communication over time (like us) regional accents and regional languages can occur.

Which animals have regional languages?

Although there is no real way to understand exactly what animals are saying or how they speak (although that would be pretty cool), research has found that animals in different areas produce different sounds. However, there is no way to know whether your dog and a dog from Russia would be able to understand each other, as this is also determined by the breed of animal. Throughout their research, scientists have found that birds, amphibians, whales, and dolphins have distinct regional languages. One of the most incredible regional language difference is between blue whales. Throughout their investigations, marine biologists have discovered that there are nine different variations of whale dialect across the world – despite the fact they are exactly the same breed!

Yes, they really do have accents

So, in a sense, animals all across the world have their own accents. Just as people have different accents all across the UK, the US and the world, so do animals. This has been found in killer whales across America. Scientists have found that they can determine where a whale is from just by listening to their noises. From this, they can tell whether they are native to the Pacific coast around North America, Alaska, and Vancouver – or if they have traveled from further afield.

But it’s not so simple

As much as there have been proven dialectical changes within certain animals – many other species have quashed this idea. In a University of Pennsylvania experiment, scientists switched newborn macaque monkeys to see if they would adopt their regional accent. They swapped two Rhesus macaques with two Japanese macaques as they are the most different in communication forms. Although they use all of the same sounds – like screams, coos, barks and gruffs – they use them in different contexts. When playing, rhesus macaques gruff, whereas Japanese macaques coo. After separating the babies and switching them over to different families, the monkeys did not adopt their new way of speaking. This lead to the conclusion that it would take thousands of years to develop their own regional accents.

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