Many people have presumed that there is a functional difference between other creatures and human beings that enables us to form words, however recent studies have found this to be unfounded.
What we’ve now come to realize is that animals can interact with each other and even talk. However, they do not use words of our human language as they do not understand them.
Even so, there are many animals that can utter words of the human language or other natural or animal sounds by using methods like mimicking.
In this article, we will talk about these animals that are smart enough to mimic human (see also: Animals That Saved Humans)words, and animal and nature sounds, and share with you some information about them that you might not know!
How Do Animals Communicate?
While the adage goes that we humans speak with our eyes, there have been several studies over the ages to prove that we actually speak with our entire bodies.
It is not always necessary to use speech to communicate something. Have you ever told a silly joke to the barman across the bar counter? All you did was grin smugly at them.
Even though all the other animals cannot communicate with other animals with words, they can utter words and phrases but also communicate in a bodily manner similar to humans.
So, even though animals do not speak, they interact with their friends’ using gestures, body movement, and vocal calls, as well as their noses and sense of smell.
While most of their interactions are non-verbal, those animals that can speak some words are truly amazing and extraordinary.
We should make clear that even the animals in this list are the exceptions in their species, as those proven to speak words can do so thanks to their proximity and interaction with humans.
On the contrary, their relatives living in the wild most probably don’t know any human words, but they might still be able to imitate and make other animals’ sounds or those of nature!
8 Animals That Talk
Parrots are regarded as the best talking birds due to their ability to amass large vocabulary knowledge, with a few African greys being able to speak even 1,000 words!
They are classified as Psittaciformes and are one of the most appealing birds because of their multi-colored appearance and their capacity to live together with humans.
That is because they are vocal learners, which means they understand any sound by hearing it and then mimicking it.
However, it is peer pressure and their desire to fit in that makes them mimic humans and the way we talk, while it is a survival necessity that has them harnessing to the full their talking capabilities in the forests, as they can then communicate vital information and fit in with the birds.
2. African Gray Parrots
So far, you might have understood that there are more birds in the animal kingdom that can “talk” besides parrots.
Einstein, an African gray parrot is another one that might belong to the parrot species, but he deserved his own place on this list.
That is because Einstein, who lives at the Knoxville Zoo in Tennessee, can utter more than 200 words and sounds, with one of the most impressive being mimicking a tiger’s roar.
Many ravens have been witnessed to talk by people hiking the backcountry and the truth is that it is thanks to these people that ravens learned to talk.
Just like parrots, these birds have the ability to pick up words and phrases people say and repeat them, but their vocabulary is only limited to 100 words more or less.
However, they do this mostly when they are in close proximity to people and spend some time with them, which can be done when they live in popular zoos and conservation centers.
What is more, they are more adept at mimicking sounds like police sirens and animal noises. This is thanks to the syrinx, a vocal organ they have that enables the production of sound.
Their communication abilities of ravens and parrots are comparable, and they are also on the list of the smartest birds, with corvids (i.e. ravens) slightly ahead of the Psittaciformes when it comes to overall intelligence.
Orcas can mimic human utterances, in certain cases without even having to try more than once, saying things like “hello,” “one, two,” and “bye.”
Lots of research that’s been done also demonstrates that these creatures can mimic unknown sounds made by other killer whales, such as what sounds like blowing a raspberry.
Experts claim this finding helps us figure out how various pods of these species of whales developed unique dialects, lending credence to the theory that these dialects are the byproduct of orca imitation.
The orcas have already been renowned for their power to imitate the movements of their siblings and relatives, while many experts have also indicated that these animals can also imitate the sounds of other sea creatures like sea lions.
As little kids, many of us had a great wish that dolphins could talk, and we might get our wishes to come true. It just might not be in the way an animation film would do it.
The concept of talking relates to communicating orally. Taking this into consideration, we can safely assume that dolphins cannot communicate in the way we people can. They do, nevertheless, “communicate” with one another!
Dolphins begin interacting with members of their species as soon as they are born, using different squeaks, clicks, as well as whistles.
A dolphin’s interaction competencies develop with age and become so intricate that researchers have uncovered that each one of the dolphins in this world has a personal, unique call that works similarly to its name.
Displaced reference is, in simple words, the ability humans have to talk about things that belong to their past. Even though we generally consider this normal, it’s certainly an outstanding ability.
This ability was thought to be unique to our species, and yet there is an animal that shares it with us: orangutans.
It was not long ago that an orangutan demonstrated the capability to mimic human talk, bringing humans one step closer to comprehending how our speech has evolved from the communication systems of prehistoric higher primates.
The vocal capabilities of this animal are not the same as those of humans, but just like birds, they are great at mimicking human sounds or the sounds of nature.
In fact, it’s been discovered that the sounds orangutans make when mimicking humans and learning new human sounds are made uncontrollably, as there is something inherent in them that helps them produce them.
7. European Starling
Jaber, a European starling, is a small bird that is quite sociable as are all European starlings, as organisms.
Jarber has been the star of several viral videos that, at first, were posted on Reddit by its owner’s account and which are now also available on YouTube.
In these videos, you can see Jarber talking since he was a little baby, saying words like “angel,” or other phrases such as “who’s my sweet bird?”
As you can understand, these are words uttered by his owner first, with the European starling then mimicking the phrases and saying them itself.
In the Everland Zoo in South Korea, you can see some of the most exotic and wild animals.
You can also meet Koshik there, a 23-year-old elephant that has been awe-inspiring tourists with his communication skills since 2006.
But in case you expected him to talk with his mouth, you won’t see that happening. Rather than using the traditional way of talking, Koshik “talks” with his trunk!
So, if you spot Koshik with his trunk in his mouth, it might be because he’ll have a message for you. What this smart elephant does is put the tip of his trunk in his mouth to imitate the humans and their speech.
Of course, he gets as far as matching only some words, but he also gets the gist and tone of our discourse, which suggests he can “talk” in higher or lower tones.
However, the only language he speaks is Korean as that is the language used by the zookeepers, but if you spend a lot of time with him you might even get him to speak some English too!
The Bottom Line
After reading this article, you might start realizing that we humans are not that unique when it comes to speech. While it is true that none of these animals can speak as fluently as we do, there is still a lot to be discovered about their communication with one another.
Dolphins might have a complete language of theirs that we are not fully aware of, and just like they cannot talk in our language, we can’t talk in theirs!