CROSSROADS Language Studio’s Newsletter November, 2023 COMMUNICATION


How often has fantasy predicted reality? Did the 1902 SF silent movie “A Trip to the Moon” inspire the Apollo moon- landings of the 1960’s and70’s? Could the 1920 children’s story about Dr. Dolittle be having the same effect on current scientific thinking? Could it be that soon a trip to the zoo may be as wondrous an experience as a trip to the moon?
Scientists are now working on compiling a dictionary of animal sounds with the eventual goal of understanding their languages and, in time, actually talking with them, à la Dr. Dolittle!
It has already been established that many species of animals communicate among themselves. We humans are not normally aware of this because much of their “verbalization” is generated at frequencies beyond our range of hearing. But with AI and other modern, sophisticated equipment, scientists are tuning in to many of their “conversations” and documenting the results. Elephants, whales, dolphins, tigers, bats, and many others are able to hear long, slow powerful sound waves that can travel many kilometers, even penetrating solid matter, sounds we are normally ignorant of due to our poor hearing.
But are these sounds actually an intelligible language? Many scientists argue that they, although meaningful for the animals’ survival, may not constitute a real language as we humans understand it. So, the question is, will we ever be able to have a conversation with an elephant, a bat or a fish?
Instead of considering the possibility of us learning animal languages in order to communicate with them, let’s look at this from an inverse perspective. Can animals learn to use our languages to talk with us? No, not just mimicking words like a parrot, but actually having a two way conversation with us in our language.
Introducing Noc (pronounced “no-see”) the beluga whale.
Belugas are very affable, curious and intelligent creatures and normally spend their lives in pods of about 25 whales in the open seas, but Noc lived virtually his entire life in captivity. For more than 20 years from the late 1970’s, he worked for the U.S. navy detecting and recovering test torpedoes. He lived and trained with only 2 or 3 other belugas and the only “pod” they were able to bond with was their surrogate family of human trainers.
One day two navy divers were making some underwater repairs to the whales’ enclosure when one of the divers though he heard the command “out” through his “wet phone.” He abruptly surfaced to discover that nobody had given such an order. It was soon realized that Noc had issued the “order”! This instance was followed by more “orders” from Noc in what seemed like English! Studies followed, recordings were made and the experts were convinced, Noc spoke in English! Not too clearly, but in English!! Follow the link below to hear a recording of Noc’s utterances.

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