Question of the Week Podcast

Question of the Week episode

Mon, 15th Oct 2012

Willl we ever be able to have a conversation with animals?

Dogs - Social animals (c) Adam.J.W.C.

This week we find out if we there will ever be a real life Dr Doolittle.  And sticking with expressing ourselves we ask - was prehistoric art restricted to caves?

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Of course it dosen't have to be that animals must learn our means of communication. Since we are so clever, why don't we take what we learn of their language to speak to them.

Why do some caged birds imitate us? Is it perhaps to attract our attention, or simply because they can. Wild Lyrebirds can imitate many sounds, such as ringing phones, chain saws etc. Why do they do this? It certainly isn't to attract our attention, so perhaps it is simply because they can, or that the more sounds an individual can imitate, the more desireable it is deemed to be as a mate. Perhaps it was at first a means of defence. Threatened by a predator, with no means of escape, to imitate the roar of a Lion might frighten off many a smaller predator.

Bees can communicate the direction and distance of a good food source to other workers in the hive by wagging their abdomen.

Dogs can even communicate with us. Barking, growling and whimpering vocalisations in conjunction with tail, teeth, paws and other body movement visualisations express their pleasure, displeasure, warning and threat.

Many animals express vocal communications which some people have studied and can imitate. Visual communication, such as in the Chameleon and Cuttlefish, may be understandable, but I doubt we will ever have the ability to imitate it.

Dolphins and Whales have some of the most complex vocalisations and could prove the most exciting languages for us to learn. The question here might be, do Common Dolphins and Bottlenose Dolphins use different languages? Can a Sperm Whale understand a Humpback Whale?

But I think the bottom line is, do any of these animals actually want to communicate with us? In fact, some Dolphins already do: But dolphin vocalisation is alien to ours. In this instance, I would hazard a guess that it was the Dolphins which instigated this communication, therefore, is it not our turn to reciprocate?

We have the technology and it is we who seem to be so keen to talk to the animals. They, for the most part, have no cause to want to communicate with us, except perhaps to tell us to bugger off out of their homeland and stop planting for palm oil production etc. So if we want to talk to them, we must learn their language and imitate or synthisis it.

The question then would be, what might we learn? Animals do pass on information and emotion to each other and some animals can understand other animal language, but 'conversation'? How many animals might want to pass the time of day with idle chit-chat, as we do?

Click - clickclick - clickclickclickety - clicketyclick - click?
(Translation)Did you see that huge Sardine Dolly Dolphin caught yesterday? Don_1, Wed, 17th Oct 2012

I had a siamese cat at one time that sort of could talk to me-her mews had all different tones to them of which i could discern what they meant-unfortunately she was usually telling me to shut up when i greeted her in the morning. lol jazzderry, Mon, 5th Nov 2012

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