When I moved to France almost six years ago, my cat moved with me and just like myself I found that it took him some time to adjust not only to his new surroundings but to the new language the village cats spoke over here.
It might sound a little weird but I noticed that at the very beginning he didn’t seem to understand what they were saying when they tried to communicate with my German boy. I thought this was due to missing socialisation with other cats as in Berlin he lived in an apartment and very rarely saw another cat whereas here in France he almost couldn’t avoid to encounter other cats.
After a little while I noticed that he adjusted his sounds, and in some way I would say that he learnt to speak cat French.
Two studies I came across recently seem to prove my theory.
The first one is about goats that develop a different accent as soon as they leave their siblings and mingle with other goats.
It was previously thought that goats’ voices were purely genetic and that they couldn’t adjust. The new study disproves that theory and shows how goats are very well able to adjust to their surroundings. The researchers believe as this is true for goats it might very well be equally true for other mammals.
Farmers in Somerset found something very similar, they stated slight differences in how their cows mooed depending on which herd these belonged to. Researchers are familiar with the phenomenon not from cows but from birds already as they show distinct chirping accents.
The reason for that is believed to be the small number of animals in a group or herd where peers have such high importance that it is very possible to influence the dialect.
If you have a pet yourself I’d be interested to hear if you made similar experiences like I did with my cat.
Picture by sLENGfJES