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Question:
Why do animals make sounds, are they trying to talk to us?



Replies:
You bet. When the dog barks loud and nasty, he's trying to tell you to stay out of his yard, and when he whines and scratches at the door he's telling you to let him out if you don't want a mess. But what you probably mean is, are they trying to talk to us about religion, politics, good movies they'd like to see, or how it feels to be taken for a walk with a leash around your neck? That we don't know. The evidence appears to suggest that they are not. They do not appear to be telling each other very complicated things of this sort, and if you actually try to teach a dog to talk you can't get very far. Normally if you can speak one language, you can be taught another of the same level of complexity if someone works at it, and people have worked at it with all kinds of animals. Animals make noise in general to talk to each other ("Food over here! Look out, a predator! Stay away, this tree is mine!"), but some make noise for unusual reasons. Bats, for example, make noise to "see" where they're going by the echoes. Dolphins make very loud noises to stun fish so they can eat them.

Christopher Grayce



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