When we talk about accents and regional dialects we automatically think about Geordie, Scouse, Manc and Cockney to name but a few, but what if I threw Sperm Whale into the mix?
According to research carried out by a PhD student at Dalhousie University in Canada, Sperm Whales use different phrases and dialects to communicate, much like humans.
We all know that animals communicate with each other but it had never occurred to me that a dog in England would have trouble understanding what a dog in Spain was barking about, so this research got me thinking.
I remember a story about a lady whose friend passed away and she took ownership of her dog. At first she thought the dog was deaf. It wasn’t until she took it to the vet that it occurred to her that the mother tongue of the previous owner was not English; the dog wasn’t deaf, it just couldn’t understand her! Then there was the dog that spoke Polish…
Anyway, I digress. I found it interesting that, according to the research findings, whales are able to identify which member of the family is speaking based on the way they pronounce their words and their accent. This is similar to the way that humans identify the voice at the other end of a telephone call.
This made me think about Anna’s last post regarding The Queen’s English and the role of accents in modern society; or, more to the point, do we as humans overcomplicate an issue that is clearly one of the most natural things in the world? If all living creatures have accents, why do we prioritise one over another? After all, isn’t The Queen’s English a manufactured accent that the hierarchy of society decided to prioritise?
The research does not go into whether the rest of the animal kingdom reacts differently to the language used by their leaders, but this would certainly make for interesting reading.