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Animal Talk

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There are only two languages in the world: Human and Animal. Humans and other obviously sapient creatures, such as Ridiculously Human Robots, Beast Men, and, yes, even anthropomorphic Funny Animals are always portrayed as having many different languages even within the same racial ethnicity, whilst all animals speak the same language regardless of species. In Real Life, much as with people, things like a cat's meow or a gull's cry often sound different in historically isolated populations around the globe.

Sometimes the trope only applies one way: the animals can understand the human language, but not vice versa, like in Garfield (at least early on). In some other situations, very young children can understand animals, either meaning that Baby Talk counts as a type of "Animal", or that Animal Talk is just one of those things that's Invisible to Adults.

Are you a Friend to All Living Things? Or turned into an animal? Maybe found a Babel Fish, or you simply speak fluent Animal? You can now speak to all living things, from whales to paramecia (plants usually excepted). Is this a work about largely normal animals? In that case, all of them will share some kind of crazy Common Tongue (except the ones that aren't cute enough, sometimes), even if they can't talk to people, they will still all be able to communicate equally well to disparate species as with their own kin.


Made particularly strange if the Translation Convention is in effect around humans: when perspective shifts to humans, the Real Life (and completely dissimilar) vocalizations of the species involved will be heard, but then when it switches to the perspective of said animals, everything will become intelligible with no Bilingual Dialogue problems at all, as the same language.

In a comic book Thought Bubble Speech may be used. Ventriloquist Animal ocurs when talking animals don't move their mouths.

Not to be confused with Talking Animal, where the animals actually speak and the humans understand them.

This is Level 4 on the Sliding Scale of Animal Communication.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • A strange variant of this occurs in Pokémon: The Series:
    • All the different species of Pokémon (usually) talk only using parts of their own names, but they can still understand every other species. Team Rocket's Meowth, who is one of the few Pokémon which speak human language (he taught himself to impress a female), sometimes acts as a translator. Interestingly, the Pokémon appear to understand humans easily, so much so that Meowth is never shown to speak Pokémon talk even when he isn't in the company of humans.
    • This was taken to ridiculous heights in the second movie, when Pikachu communicated with Zapdos through an arc of electricity, and Meowth was able to translate just by watching. A future episode has him saying that's impossible, so it was either later retconned or the writers made an oversight.
    • Island of the Giant Pokémon is the only known Pokémon episode to actually provide subtitles, due to having a sub-plot that didn't involve any humans. Subtitles weren't provided in the original Japanese version of the episode.
    • To make things even more confusing, an early Kanto episode had a frazzled wild Wartortle keep trying to relay something to Pikachu, but it couldn't understand what it was saying, so Pikachu sent out Squirtle to chat with the fellow.
    • The heroes occasionally encounter Pokémon who can communicate with humans through telepathy or some other form of magic or psychic power, such as a Gastly and a Lapras, and in one movie, a Lucario, but this is rare.
    • In Pokémon the Series: Sun & Moon, it is revealed that Meowth is unable to understand what Ultra Beasts are saying, which adds to their alien nature.
  • Tony Tony Chopper of One Piece is a reindeer granted human intelligence by a magic fruit. Not only can he speak, but he can also translate between 'human' and 'animal' Word of God says that only an animal with the Hito Hito Fruit can talk to both humans and animals, contrary to a human eating the animal-themed Zoan fruits and being able to communicate to animals.
  • In Wolf's Rain, this seems to be the case. Toboe was also shown speaking to a human girl in human speech, even in his wolf form.
  • Occurs in the Cowboy Bebop episode Mushroom Samba via subtitles, after a cow has forced the train with Ed and the mark to stop by standing on the tracks.
    Ein: Woof! (Thank you)
    Cow: Moo. (Oh, it's no problem)
  • In Tokyo Mew Mew, as revealed in Episode 29, Ichigo developed the ability to understand cat language. Also, in the end of Episode 27 and over the course of Episode 28 before then, she actually turns into a talking cat for the first time! Ryou also turns into a talking cat as well, but only lasts in that form for a few seconds.
  • In Animal Land, each animal species has their own distinct language called a cry which only members from their own species can understand. The animals however can understand humans like Tarouza and they in turn can understand all types of animal cries.
  • In the Happy Happy Clover Anime and Manga by Sayuri Tatsuyama. Animals are forbidden to leave Cresent Forest, in fear of humans. But, Clover decides to leave the forest since she wonders why animals are scared of humans. When she first encounters humans, since starts panicking and calling for help. But from the humans point of view, they can't understand what she's saying.
  • Another manga by Tatsuyama Sayuri is "Pukupuku Natural Circular Notice" a 1999 manga that ran until 2004. In the Manga series, the pets and animals that show up in the manga can talk to each other but the humans can't understand them
  • The dogs in Massugu ni Ikou all speak among themselves. They can also speak to other animals such as crows.
  • My Roommate is a Cat: Most of the sympathetic animals are cats, but Haru is shown able to talk with a dog while visiting the vet's office.
  • Ringing Bell has sheep and wolves talking to each other however other animals don't communicate.

    Comic Books 
  • Aquaman is famous for having the embarrassingly lame superpower of talking to fish. While he can communicate telepathically with any sea creature, his powers are useless on land animals, suggesting at least two incompatible dialects of Animal Talk.
    • Subverted in recent series by having him able to affect the parts of the mammal brain that predate land life— to a limited degree— suggesting the separation is merely a psychological block. Of course, given the recent Cosmic Retcon, and the general lack of research of most writers at DC these days, who knows if that's still canon.
  • Swedish comic series Bamse has a huge Furry Confusion thing going on, but still plays this trope completely straight: You have anthropomorphic animals (who walk on two legs, live in houses, have jobs and basically stand in for humans) and non-anthropomorphic animals. It's clearly and repeatedly shown that all the non-anthros can and do talk to one another, regardless of species or nationality, though the anthros don't understand them.
  • Happens with Krypto in the old Superboy comics. Modern comics featuring Krypto have averted this by making him think in fragments like one might expect from an animal.
  • In ORPHANIMO!!, all animals can speak with each other, but not with humans. It's called Global Animal Language in the last album.
  • Archie's dog in Afterlife with Archie has internal dialogue in his appearance. He speaks in fragmented sentences. He refers to Archie as "archiemaster" and many of his words are meshed together.

    Comic Strips 
  • In all the Garfield comics, movies, specials, and series, the animals can understand human language, but not vice versa. In the comic this has been going the other way as far as Garfield and Jon are concerned, since Jon actually reacts to things that only appear in Garfield's thought bubbles (such as the comic's trademark Aside Glance).
    • Odie is an odd exception, he is incapable of any form of communication other than barks and such in all media he appears in, and with the exception of a couple isolated incidents is unable to do animal thoughtspeak, though he is the only animal in the comics who isn't able to do so, including other dogs. Given his intelligence level, he may have just not learned how to. There was one comic, however where he tried to meow to Garfield, only for Garfield to claim he couldn't understand him due to his thick dog accent.
    • This seems to apply not only to animals, but everything: flowers, doughnuts, old meatloaf, laser pointers, and weight machines have all been shown to be capable of communicating with Garfield through thoughts.
  • Snoopy is capable of Animal Talk in the Peanuts comics, but not so much in the movies and specials.
  • Seems to apply in Beetle Bailey, but rarely comes up. When Otto (Sgt. Snorkel's dog) and Bella (Sgt. Lugg's cat) first meet, they seem to be able to communicate through their thought bubbles, which humans can't "hear". Another time in a much newer strip, Otto communicates with some cats with normal speech bubbles.
  • In The Far Side, being that it's a Mind Screw comic strip, this trope is subverted, inverted, played straight, and so on in every possible way from strip to strip.
  • In Pooch Café, while dogs and their owners can communicate, cats speak to nobody but other cats.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bolt Chronicles: Applies not only to Bolt, Mittens, and Rhino, but to all the OC animal characters. Humans do not understand animal talk in these stories, but animals understand humans as well as other animals. Played with in “The Murder Mystery” and “The Gift,” where humans and animals can understand each other. The former is an example of All Just a Dream and the latter occurs under the ideal circumstances of Nirvana.
  • In Warriors Redux there are two tongues: Felidae (also known as "Cat's Tongue", "Double-Talk", and "Moorland") and "Fang" (also know as "Language of the Meat-eaters", "Blood-Speak", "Hunter's Tongue", and "Basic"). Felidae is both verbal and physical. The words are verbal, while the intonation and emotion come from body language. Cats who don't use body language are considered monotone, while moving only certain parts of your body is similar to an accent. Fang, in contrast, is the Common Tongue of predators. It's a limited language mainly consisting of nouns. Few Clan cats are fluent in it, while tame domestic animals have more trouble speaking Fang than feral domestic animals.

    Films — Animation 
  • 101 Dalmatians exhibits this trope, as does the original novel on which it's based.
  • The Aristocats also exhibits this trope, all the animals are able to talk with each other. But when humans are around, them make normal animal noises. Most notable when Marie,Toulouse,and Berlioz return home and meow to their owner when they return home.
  • For the most part, Dumbo seems to follow this trope, as animals of all species can communicate, as well as understand what the humans are saying but not vice-versa. However, at one point Timothy Mouse is able to whisper intelligibly into the ringmaster's ear as he sleeps. Either Timothy is special, animals just pretend they can't speak when humans are around (which you'd think would be an even bigger claim to fame than a flying elephant if one ever spoke up), or the fact that the man was asleep meant he only heard the mouse subconsciously.
  • The Little Mermaid (1989) has all manners of fish being able to communicate with each other, mermaids, invertebrates, and even birds. Sharks appear to be the only animals that can't speak. They avoid interaction with humans for most of the movie, yet Eric appears to understand Sebastian when he whispered Ariel's name at him. Even the prequel series has shown Sebastian interacting with a human child, proving that humans can understand some creatures.
  • Also shown in the first Ice Age movie, where all animals understand each other, but "humans can't talk". The sequels feature animals that don't seem to talk but are still intelligent and sapient as the talking animals. Examples include Cretaceous and Maelstrom from Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, the dinosaurs from Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, and the hyraxes from Ice Age 4: Continental Drift. Interestingly, Santa Claus from A Mammoth Christmas is human and is able to communicate with the animals. It might be because he's magical.
  • In Lady and the Tramp, the dog characters can talk to each other and to most animals in the zoo. Interestingly, they cannot converse with apes as they are too close to humans in nature. Birds and rats are also shown to not communicate with dogs.
  • Reversed in Ratatouille: Remy the rat can understand humans and has even taught himself to read but must use physical gestures to communicate with them. There is one scene where Remy speaks to his sidekick Emile, then cuts to a human's perspective where all she can hear is a very high-pitched squeaking. This could mean the difference is in timbre rather than language. Also, he was never shown to communicate with any other animal, other than his rat family.
  • In Happy Feet, most animals speak to each other, even most predators, but humans cannot understand. Unless one happens to be a penguin that can communicate via tap-dance.
  • Down Played in All Dogs Go to Heaven as well. Dogs can only communicate with other dogs, and the orphan girl Anne-Marie, is able to speak to all animals. (This is made explicit when it's clear that Anne-Marie is being exploited by Carface -and later by Charlie, before his Heel–Face Turn- to bet on animal races, since she can inform him who will win.) This is held pretty consistent throughout the film... except when it isn't (i.e., King Gator and Charlie's big Disney Acid Sequence duet.)
  • Disney's Tarzan subverts this: gorillas and elephants seem to share a language, unintelligible to humans, but other animals like baboons or leopards seem to have their own language of grunts and growls. This carries on to the animated series, where Jane has been taught to speak to gorillas and elephants, but she simply cannot communicate with any other non-human animal. She also cannot understand when Tarzan is speaking to a different animal. Tarzan, apparently, is just multilingual. When other humans show up, Jane or Tarzan have to relay whatever their elephant or gorilla friends say to them.
  • On Madagascar, there are a couple of scenes where Alex the lion tries to talk to the humans. All they hear is roaring, and are understandably horrified. It's implied that the Zoo animals are too sheltered to realize that the humans can't understand them.
  • But in The Penguins of Madagascar, it is unclear whether or not the human characters can understand the animal characters. Sometimes, the humans seem to understand the animals, sometimes they do not.
    • Dave the octopus seems to be able to speak to humans, though it's possible he simply learned the English language, as he's shown to be a mad genius. Strangely the [[Furry Confusion other octopuses just speak via bulbing, even when speaking to the penguins]].
  • In Bolt, animals can talk with one another, but the humans can't understand them.
  • A variation is used in the sequels to The Land Before Time, where there are apparently two dinosaur languages, one used by the T. rex characters (and possibly other "Sharpteeth") and one used by everyone else. An odd exception to the rule is Chomper, the baby 'Sharptooth' who (presumably) learned to speak the 'conventional' dinosaur language and the exclusive 'Sharptooth' language (shown when translating his parents language to Littlefoot). Interestingly, some non-dinosaurs can speak the same language as the herbivorous dinosaurs, including carnivores.
  • In BIONICLE, Nuju learns bird language. There is also kikinalo language and Visorak language.
  • Brother Bear: When Kenai is turned into a bear, he suddenly gains the ability to speak to all animals, but loses his ability to speak with other humans. However, there is a siberian bear that only speaks what is translated into Russian, to the confusion of every other bear.
  • The Princess and the Frog: All animals can speak with each other but not with humans. However, when Naveen and Tiana are transformed into frogs they gain the abilities to talk to the animals yet do not lose the ability to communicate with other humans. Mama Odie appears to be able to understand Animal Talk in her human form, though this is justifiable in that she uses voodoo.
  • Space Chimps, although it only applies to chimpanzees and aliens. No other animal can talk to them.
  • Balto has animals of different species speaking to each other.
  • In Rio, the animals can't talk to people, not even the parrots ironically.
  • Over the Hedge, the humans can't understand the animals as shown when Ozzie is distracting the humans by "playing dead" when he is speaking it switches to the humans prespective where all they hear is animal noises.
  • Open Season, the animals can talk to each other, but it's most likely that the humans can't understand them as shown when Boog is trying to stop Elliot from ruining his show. The humans hear them behind the curtain and since they only hear roaring, mistake him for trying to kill Elliot and then all of them. Though it is unclear if Shaw can understand the animals or not, but did see Eliot walk like a man. But in Open Season: Scared Silly, Shaw understood the animals, when Boog said "Aooooo" when his hand was bitten by Mr Weenie, he heard it clearly and though it was a werewolf.
  • In Bambi, the animals (except the dogs) can talk to each other, but they are never shown talking to humans.
  • In Dinosaur, all the herbivorous dinosaurs and the lemurs can talk to each other, but the carnivorous dinosaurs, including the film's Big Bads, a pair of Carnotaurus, cannot talk. They instead communicate using roars and screams.
  • Played with in Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron: none of the animals speak human language in-story, but there seems to be an implied horse language above and beyond horse communication in the real world.
  • In A Bug's Life, all arthropods can talk to each other, but larger animals such as birds cannot. The pillbugs communicate in some sort of gibberish rather than English, though. Perhaps because they are crustaceans.
  • Barnyard and Back at the Barnyard take this even further: Not only do the animals have the ability to talk to each other but do pretend that they can't talk when humans are around, (Except for one scene) whenever they're left alone they all start walking on two legs, but if they're all spotted by humans, they all revert back to walking on all fours!!
  • In The Jungle Book (1967), all of the animals can talk to each other, and to Mowgli who was Raised by Wolves. The sequel takes this to ridiculous extremes when Shanti and Ranjan, who both grew up in the village, also understand the animals.
  • The animals in The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue can actually talk to each other and even electronic devices, but like said electronics they cannot talk to people.
  • In Finding Nemo, almost all animals are able to talk to each other, whether they're fish, birds, crustaceans, or anything else. Whales might be an exception, although Dory's efforts at speaking "whale" just involved shouting slowly in a silly voice so maybe not. Jellyfish are the only animals shown not to speak, or apparently even be sentient. Animals seem to be able to understand humans, but huamns perceive animals as just making their normal noises.
  • In Free Birds, Reggie talks fine to other turkeys. But, when he orders pizza, the pizza man only hears a gobble gobble and in a later scene when he is in a government facility he trys to speak to the guards but once again, just like the pizza guy, they only hear gobble gobbles.
  • The fairies from Disney Fairies actually all speak human language when left alone, but make tinkling noises when with humans. It's implied that their voices are just high pitched to the point that humans can only hear the tinkling.
  • Goats and wolves speak a common tongue in One Stormy Night. Other animals seem to understand each other as well.
  • Despite being a previous caged hen, Leafie from Leafie, a Hen into the Wild has no trouble understanding otters or ducks.
  • Unlike with previous examples, You Are Umasou has carnivorous and herbivorous dinosaurs both being able to speak and communicate with each other.
  • The Secret Life of Pets: The pets can talk to each other but not to their owners, of course, because no human but the viewer can hear what the animals say.
  • Spies in Disguise: Being turned into a pigeon allows Lance to understand what other pigeons are saying. All we hear onscreen is cooing, though. Lance can also talk to Walter and understand him fluently.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Babe, animals can all communicate with each other across species, but their understanding of humans is limited. The human characters cannot understand the animals at all. And yet, even though animals can all understand each other, they very often have problems actually understanding each other. Especially dogs and sheep.
  • Inverted in Enchanted, Animals can clearly communicate amongst each other AND to other "human" characters in Andalasia, but once we cross into the "real world" of New York, this ability ceases.
  • In Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Ron's dog Baxter talks with some bears to dissuade them from killing Ron and Veronica. However, it's portrayed as regular animal noises with translation subtitles.
  • Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey goes back and forth on this. Dogs and cats are able to communicate with each other but don't seem to understand other animals, wild or domesticated. They don't seem to be able to understand humans either save for maybe a few words and phrases, which of course, leads to the conflict of the movie.
  • In the Eddie Murphy Dr. Dolittle films, all of the animals can talk to each other, but only Dr. Dolittle can understand them, and in later installments, some of the other members of his family. Played for Laughs at one point in which a monkey that can't understand Dolittle when he badly needs it to turns out to only speak Spanish.

  • The book Watership Down, never content to leave an animal trope as it finds it, has its rabbits speak Lapine amongst themselves. Local creatures share a crude woodland vernacular (referred as "hedgerow talk"), but other ones have to be taught; these are represented by broken language, strong accents and unintelligibility of simple concepts such as Lapine's "silflay" or Keehaar's 'Gullish' "sea" to other species. Different rabbit populations have words and concepts for things others do not: for example, the Watership crowd has no comprehension of the "great messenger of Frith" that scattered their pursuers, but the Efrafans know it was a train.
  • Played straight in Richard Adam's The Plague Dogs, where apparently all animals can talk to each other (a caged rabbit clearly requests to "be left to die in peace") but animals cannot talk to humans. However, the titular dogs have trouble understanding the Tod, a fox whose animal speak is translated into a particularly hard-to-understand English dialect.
  • In Xanth, each species of animals, plants and inanimate objects has its own language. Interestingly, for instance language of the dragons is related to the language of snakes, and centaurs can in theory converse with pegasi. Also, some beings might have magical gifts to be able to talk the languages of other species, like Grundy.
  • Played straight in most of Dick King-Smith's books; for instance in The Sheep-Pig sheep, dogs and pigs can all communicate, and in Magnus Powermouse, the mice have no problem talking to a rabbit. Averted in The Fox Busters, which includes the mutually incomprehensible languages of Vulpine, Hennish and Rodent, with no lingua franca.
  • In the first Dinotopia book, it is explicitly stated that different genera of animals speak different languages. There is one lingua franca that is understood by a few species, including humans and Protoceratopsians. The thing is, whether you are able to understand this language or not depends seemingly on your biological classification. Fortunately, James Gurney seems to have outright dumped this in later books (exactly how it was supposed to work was never clear).
    • One of Allan Dean Foster's Dinotopia novels had a human-and-stegosaurian nomadic community where, despite the stegosaurians and all other dinosaurs being as intelligent as humans (it's part of the setting) and the community having existed for years, the dinosaurs and humans could not understand what the other species was saying.
    • It may or may not have been Gurney who dumped it, but the digest novels left it behind to make them easier for younger readers to comprehend.
  • In Animal Farm, the animals all understand each others' different noises, but the humans and animals don't seem to understand each other. No human ever speaks to animals, so it's not clear if animals can understand what they say.
    • There is one exception: Napoleon (and pretty much the other pigs) can talk to humans, as he hired a man to serve as their adviser for trades.
    • For sure all the animals can read human language (example: the writing on the furgoin taking Boxer the horse away). And (most of) the animals can write and read the animal manifesto on the barn wall, even if it's not necessarily in human language.
    • The movies do this differently: the '54 film has very little speaking from either species, while the '98 version has the other farmers discovering this. The novel never really explains how this is possible, though.
  • Either played with or subverted in Tamora Pierce's The Immortals series, where all the animals could talk to each other with relative ease, but it was implied that each species has its own distinct dialect. Unlike a lot of examples, the language the animals speak seems to be directly mind-to-mind, separate from their vocalised communications, so perhaps it operates more like telepathy than language. Inter-species communication happens in the books (squirrels talking to wolves etc) but it's implied that this is very unusual and due to the effect of the human main character, contact with whom makes animals smarter. So while apparently all animals are able to talk to one another, it wouldn't normally occur to them to speak to another species.
  • Averted somewhat in Garry Kilworth's House of Tribes. The different classes of animals speak different languages; mouse speech is rendered into English as the main characters are mice, feline speech is "translated" into French and canine becomes Japanese. The mouse Little Prince does pick up canine speech from being kept as a pet in a house also containing dogs, and a fox displays some very basic knowledge of mouse-speak.
    • Kilworth also plays with this in Hunter's Moon (1989), where it's fox-speak (and dog-speak; the two species share a common language) rendered as English, feline as French, and so on; human speech is described as sounding like barks and growls. Vulpine also features regional dialects: Camio, a North American fox, is described as having a different accent than the rest of the foxes, who are all native to Great Britain; he also has different names for some vulpine concepts (longtrekker as opposed to rangfar to describe a fox who has journeyed far from home, etc.).
  • Averted in the Doctor Dolittle series, in which it is made clear that each animal species has its own language. Polynesia, the Doctor's parrot, is multilingual and taught Dolittle his first animal languages. Much of the book The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle actually deals with Dolittle attempting to learn the language of shellfish and several other aquatic species and requires a scene in which a giant sea snail has to talk to the doctor through a sea urchin, who translates for a starfish, who translates for some dolphins, who translate for Doctor Dolittle.
    • Though the Doctor's household consists of (among others) a dog, a horse, a goose, an owl, a pig and a mouse, and they can talk with each other easily, so there is some lingua franca going on. Polynesia is the only one who can speak human languages.
  • In Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Books each species apparently has its own language but most can understand each other. Curiously, the Wild Child Mowgli can't talk to water-buffalo in Book 1, but he can in Book 2. In the non-Mowgli story "Her Majesty's Servants" the human narrator is able to overhear what the animals in an army camp are saying to each other.
    • There are apparently at least three languages: those of the "Hunting-People", the Bird-People, and the Snake-People (there also seems to be a lingua franca of some kind, possibly the tongue of the Hunting-People, since neither Chil the Kite nor Kaa the Rock Python has any trouble communicating with Baloo and Bagheera, and the Bandar-Log can understand Kaa though they probably wish they couldn't). Baloo knows at least a bit of all of these (having learned from Hathi, who is implied to know even more), but has to send Mowgli off to a "native" speaker to learn the Master-Word of the Snake-People, since while Baloo can recognize it when he hears it he can't pronounce it.
  • In the Mrs. Murphy Mysteries by Rita Mae Brown animals can talk to each other freely but humans can't understand them. The reader gets Translation Convention, but much like real life while the animals can understand human speak (though oft putting it into their own mental terms) humans have no clue what animals are really saying and make up their own cutesy interpretations.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians there are several variants. Grover can speak to all animals, as he is a satyr—a spirit of nature. Percy Jackson is capable of communicating with sea creatures, because they live in Poseidon's domain, as well as horses, who were created by Poseidon. Presumably this holds true for other demigods as well—Annabeth could in theory speak to owls, etc.
  • Averted to an extent in both The Sight and Fire Bringer by David Clement-Davies, in that animals of different types cannot talk to each other. All deer breeds can inter-communicate, as can most sea animals. Only animals of exceptional ability, such as the deer Rannoch can understand all animals, and his speaking to them shocks them greatly. It is stated however that any animal can learn this ability if they try. Humans are an exception however. Even Rannoch cannot understand his captors, despite his innate ability for every other language around him.
  • In the old Sonic novel Stay Sonic, the animals can talk to each other but not to humans. Eggman later uses a machine called the Lingua Scrambler to make Sonic able to talk to humans.
  • In Warrior Cats, several different types of animals can speak, but each species speaks a different "language" and they are all unintelligible to each other (and to humans). The cats can only understand one or two words that the dog pack speaks (namely, "pack" and "kill"), while Midnight the badger is highly unusual for having learned to talk to cats, as well as foxes and rabbits. It's even mentioned that there are different languages among cats in different regions (Midnight can speak a couple of those others too). The Tribe of Rushing Water, for instance, speaks the same language as the Clans, but are mentioned to have a strange accent and use different idioms.
    Midnight: Fox and rabbit also. They speak... not of interest. Fox talk is all of kill. Rabbit have thistledown for brain.
  • Selma Lagerlöf's The Wonderful Adventures of Nils and its sequel The Further Adventures of Nils, originally published in Swedish in 1906 and 1907, plays this straight. All animals inherently understand each other, but only domesticated dogs and cats can understand Swedish. Elfs are the only creatures able to actually communicate with both humans and animals, and the boy Nils gets this ability when shrunk to elf-size.
  • Sorcerors in The Belgariad instantly learn the language of an animal on transforming into it. Wolves have a language that is primarily dominated by body language, while birds are noted to spend a lot of time yelling that a certain nest is theirs.
  • The animals in The Windwater Pack. Its referred to as “common speech”, though each species also has its own language, and understanding humans is a learned behavior..
  • Gry's power in Annals of the Western Shore. It's some kind of telepathy, but it works only on animals because human thoughts are too complex. (She can also detect babies in utero until a certain stage of development.)
  • The Bees is, not surprisingly, about bees. The bees themselves can all understand a common tongue although lower worker drones cannot talk. They also have dancing as a method of communication. Wasps and bees can talk to each other without much difficulty (ignoring the fact the wasps want to kill the bees) but communication to other insects, like ants, requires the use of an ancient tongue which very few creatures know fluently leading to very simple communication.
  • In Varjak Paw, it originally seemed like cats couldn't speak the same language as dogs, however Varjak is eventually able to speak with one. Dogs don't speak as articulately as cats do.
  • In Bambi, Bambi is not only able to understand other mammals but he can understand insects as well. Animals cannot understand humans though. It's also implied plants have a language but only other plants understand it.
  • In Survivor Dogs, there is not one universal language. Dogs and wolves speak the same language due to being so similar (they're very often even considered the same species). Foxes, coyotes, and dogs can also understand one another, but foxes and coyotes speak in fragmentive speech.
  • Zig-zagged on Discworld, especially in books involving Gaspode. In his first appearance in Moving Pictures, Gaspode (who's a Talking Animal) is clear that without his magically enhanced intelligence he wouldn't have the ability to process complex language; he can translate for another dog, but all it says is "Laddie good boy! Good boy, Laddie!" But his next appearance in Men at Arms introduces the Dog Guild, and apparently the canine language is capable of producing terrifying political speeches, and the the average Ankh-Morpork stray has enough reasoning power to understand them. The Fifth Elephant reveals he can also talk to wolves, although few wolves are interested in talking to him.
  • The Saga of the Volsungs: While Sigmund and Sinfjotli are transformed into wolves by two enchanted wolfskins, they can no longer talk but only howl like wolves, yet they understand each other. It is not mentioned whether they can understand other wolves.
  • Bravelands has no humans in the series (so far), and the main animals who talk to each other are lions, baboons, and elephants. Other animals like giraffes, rhinos, and cheetahs can communicate with them pretty well, and other talking animals include zebras, wildebeests, and vultures. Animals generally speak one Common Tongue but there are some animals that predominantly or exclusively speak certain languages. For example, birds speak skytongue, zebra speak grasstongue, and crocodiles speak sandtongue.
  • The Last Dogs: The main animals who can talk are dogs, but the three main protagonists (Max, Rocky, and Gizmo) encounter other talking animals like cats, rats, pigs, and zoo animals like elephants and red pandas.
  • In The Cat Master, the points of views are with five cats (one being the main villain of the story), two dogs (an old German shepherd and a savage chow mix), a neurotic lizard, a gluttonous possum, and a mockingbird seeking revenge for her mate's death. There is also a raccoon that can speak, but it only speaks madly of how water burns it (because it has rabies).
  • Tailchaser's Song has Common-Singing, the Common Tongue that all the animals (ranging from cats, foxes, squirrels, and even birds) can speak. This is because Common-Singing is mainly boy language. Higher-Singing is cat-exclusive and strictly verbal.
  • In The Golden Hamster Saga, all mammals can speak a telepathic language called Interanimal.
  • In The Summer King Chronicles, birds and gryfons speak one language, and mammals speak "earth speech." Only the Summer King can understand all animals.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry Potter can speak Parseltongue, allowing him to communicate with snakes. He gained the ability from Voldemort when Voldemort attempted to kill him as a baby.
    • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban establishes that Animagi can communicate with other creatures when they're in their animal form. Sirius Black uses his dog form to ask Hermione's cat-Kneazle Crookshanks to obtain Neville's list of Gryffindor common room passwords this way. Voldemort mentions in Goblet of Fire that Peter Pettigrew, who has the Animagus form of a rat, has an unusual affinity for actual rats and can talk to them in his rat form.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played with in Sabrina the Teenage Witch: trying to reason with a giant dinosaur that more than slightly resembles Godzilla, Sabrina tries Japanese. As it turns out, the dinosaur actually speaks French (a reference to then recent US Godzilla (1998) movie).
  • Lampshaded in Mongrels. When Nelson spots the Springwatch crew, he goes talking to them as he is a huge fan of the show. From the perspective of the presenters, he is just a fox who is making the usually fox sounds at the crew.
  • In Dinosaurs, dinosaurs and other animals can communicate with each other but not to humans, which are portrayed as primitive.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Usually averted in Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Played mostly straight with the Speak With Animals spell which allows the caster to communicate with any animal, but it doesn't last long and is really no more linguistically unusual than the Tongues spell, which allows speaking any language.
      • And certain versions only function for a subset of animals. The racial spell-like ability of Gnomes only permits communication with burrowing mammals (which cuts haphazardly across taxonomic lines, explicitly including foxes but not necessarily all canids, and badgers but not all mustelids).
      • In 5th edition, Forest Gnomes' ability has been changed to speak with small animals, which causes similar weirdness regarding exactly which animals it might work on.
    • The animal companions of druids and rangers have no special communication abilities apart from an empathic link to their masters.
    • A sorcerer or wizard's familiar can speak with animals and translate for its master, but the communication only works with animals of its own kind.
      • Though certain familiars, such as ravens, can speak Common, the language of most humans.
    • A paladin's mount, unless of a "unique" type obtained through non-core means, can magically command animals of its own kind (Which really only has any practical benefit against cavalry) , but it doesn't extend to all animals.
    • Lycanthropes can communicate with animals in a way normal humans can't, but only with their own kind.
    • Most versions of "polymorph other" explicitly state in the spell rules that the transformed spellcaster can't speak while in animal form, and mentions that parrots are not an exception, because they don't really speak.
    • Rangers get the ability to speak the language of their favoured class of enemy, which usually means they can speak a specific language, such as "giant", which is used by all members of the chosen class. If they choose beasts, however, it's not made clear if that means they can now speak to all animals, even ones that don't have a listed language (as with Gnomes' ability listed above), or if they have to choose a specific language spoken only by one or two species.

    Video Games 
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess — as a wolf, Link can talk to any friendly animal, including Epona. Notable that while Link can speak to them, the animals don't understand humans. Early on in the game, if you fail to listen to a human conversation without being spotted, the humans run off, and a dog nearby remarks "Wow, you can understand human talk?"
  • Averted in Ōkami. Although the protagonist is a wolf, she can't talk to any of the animals present in the game, including any of the dogs. However, Issun can, in his words, "Sorta understand" the 8 Satomi Warriors, which are canines, when none of the human nor humanoid characters can, and translates to Ammy. Additionally, Amaterasu can understand the language of humans (and the various other races of the game), but she herself cannot speak and only her companion Issun and his grandfather seem to be able to understand her.
    • The fact she can understand everything is explained quite simply by the fact that Amaterasu is the sun goddess, in the form of a wolf.
    • The Poncles are heavily implied to be able to talk to every animal, so it's not only Issun and his grandfather who can understand her.
  • Present in the Tekken series. Yes, Tekken. That's what happens when you have six actual animals (plus King and King II, who seem to prefer snarls and roars over their native Spanish). Here, though, it seems that everyone retains their language (or something they've picked up) and just understand each other: Paul (English) and Kuma II (bear) trading insults, Raven (English) and Heihachi (Japanese) discussing storyline, and so on.
  • In the first major twist of Crusader of Centy, the protagonist is rendered capable of talking to animals and monsters... and incapable of understanding human speech. Half the game goes by before he becomes bilingual.
  • Pokémon:
    • Contrary to the anime and manga, the main Pokémon video games have mostly avoided the subject... right up until Black and White, where we have N, who actually speaks the Pokemon language more easily than he speaks the local human language.
    • The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games are a little vague on the subject; there are very few humans around and they've all been transformed into Pokemon, so it's not clear whether the Pokemon characters could speak to humans or not. The protagonist of Super believes this trope is in effect, but the protagonist of Explorers was implied to converse with Grovyle even as a human.
    • In Pokepark Wii, Roggenrola plays this straight, using translated Pokémon Speak, but the very fact that he and only he does means it's subverted for everyone else, though it raises the question of why they ever bothered speaking human if they could already understand each other's Pokémon Speak.
    • Played straight in Hey You, Pikachu! and Pokémon Channel. The first even focuses on efforts to translate Human into Pokémon (or at least Pikachu), and the second features Pokémon-hosted TV shows with human-language subtitles.
  • In Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, using the Transformation Staff to turn into an animal allows the characters to talk to any animal, whether it's a rabbit or a seagull. They often give hints about where to find items or prepare for the next boss.
  • Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness has this as one of the personality/voice options for Beastmasters. All of their voice clips become random animal noises, including chicken noises.
  • Animal Crossing implies the Funny Animal characters speak a language called "Animalese". The human protagonist is fluent in it.
  • Dog's Life stars a dog named Jake who speaks internally. Oddly several NPC characters only bark instead of speak.
  • Judd from Splatoon talks in "meows" which inklings apparently understand. Oddly, he is the only animal who does this. Moe the clownfish speaks and the more anthropomorphic characters also speak (except jellyfish, who don't speak the same language as inklings). It's possibly because Judd is a mammal.
  • In Rhythm Heaven, most of the monkeys say some variant of "ook ook". This isn't consistent with all of them, though, as some are just plain Talking Animals.

  • Subverted in Addictive Science when Celia transforms Lukas into an anthropomorphic fennec to see if he can communicate with a normal fennec. He points out that animal communication is nowhere near as complex as human speech, but is pretty sure the screaming fuzzball in Celia's arms would like to be put down.
  • Savvy the jungle girl from No Pizza After Midnight can speak to a wide variety of animals, having learned their languages. It seems that in-universe different animals can't understand those of a different species, Also there are some that are far less sophisticated, such as beetles, whose languages consist of only three words: dig, eat and crawl.
    • There is also a talking slug who appears in every weekend's strip, but it's unclear if he's able to speak to other languages.
  • Reversed in the webcomic Little Dee: The title character, a human preschooler, can't talk but her animal guardians, as well as every other animal they encounter around the world, all speak English.
  • Subverted in The Order of the Stick: When Vaarsuvius is turned into a lizard, he/she is surprised a black dragon can understand his/her speech. This is because the dragon actually studied Lizard, because his mother told him "it was important to study other cultures".
  • Woo and all other animals in Sandra and Woo, including Woo's friends Shadow and Sid, speak the same language, but only Woo is able to communicate with humans. However, he's only talking with Sandra since he is afraid of ending up in a laboratory otherwise.
  • The cats can talk to one another in Papi Nyang but the humans can't understand them. It hasn't quite been confirmed if they understand the humans, due to Chev not listening to them. They haven't tried talking to other animals yet.
  • In Faux Pas: The animals can all talk with one another, and most of them understand English. At first, Cindy didn't understand English and Randy (tactfully) translated what humans were saying to her. Some can read (and a few can write) English, but the only one who can speak it is the cockatiel (since cockatiels in real life can mimic human language). Of course, Cocky actually speaks French; his English is extremely poor, which allows the humans to largely just ignore him.
  • Averted in Off-White, animals cannot understand other species, except for the blue and red spirits of each species. Iki (wolf) is surprised when he can understand Huninn and Muninn (ravens).
  • Uh-Oh, It’s a Dinosaur: Animals talk in emojis, which Kyra understands. She can also understand the English of the human characters, and bridges the gap with strange broken English. The occasional person who hears her talk can get completely weirded out by the experience.
  • In Boy and Dog, Murphy the dog and Milo the cat can understand each other.

    Western Animation 
  • 101 Dalmatians: The Series: Played straight for the most part, just like in the original novel and animated movie, but the episode "Virtual Lucky" both averted and played this trope straight. At the beginning of the episode, when Lucky is yelling at Cruella for ruining his stunt, all she hears is barking. But then when Cruella and Lucky get sucked into Roger's new computer game Cruella hears Lucky speaking and is shocked (Lucky tells her that this is because they're in a video game, where anything can happen), and outside of the computer, when Cadpig tries to tell Roger what happened, all he hears is barking.
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers:
    • Comprehending animal language seems to be a natural ability. When Dr. Nimnul (a human) accidentally transplants himself into the body of Zipper (a fly), he can understand the Rangers "because he's part bug".
    • In one single scene of the cartoon this trope is subverted in a confusing way. A dog talks to a human, the human can understand it but since he wasn't paying attention he doesn't realize it was his dog that talked, and looks around asking "who said that?". Either animals can talk "human" but they decide not to, or this dog is a Meowth-type.
  • Subverted in Beast Wars, in the very first episode. Cheetor tries to talk to the cheetahs, and even though he transforms into one, they still don't seem to understand what he's saying, instead panicking at the sight of Waspinator and running off.
    Cheetor: What? Was it something I said?
  • The 2000 Animated Adaptation of Clifford the Big Red Dog relies on this trope (in the books, the dogs never spoke at all). It can be jarring sometimes to see the three dogs having an intelligent conversation in English (via Translation Convention), only for the show to stop translating those barks when a human character steps into the picture. However, in the version that premiered in 2019, the dogs and human characters talk directly with each other.
  • Used, undoubtedly to the maximum confusion of its young audience, in the Arthur animated series. Arthur's pet dog Pal can speak to other non-anthropomorphic animals (just as a reminder, Arthur has friends who are anthropomorphic dogs). Furthermore, there are several episodes where Pal and Arthur's baby sister (who is an anthropomorphic aardvark) can communicate with each other. The series even has Kate start to lose her ability to understand Pal when she begins to learn how to talk.
  • Possibly subverted in "Truth", an episode of Ben 10, Ben transforms into Wildmutt to attempt to talk with two Vulpimancers (Wildmutt's species, although they look very little alike), which then snarl and attack him. Although Max says Vulpimancers "aren't big on small talk", it may have more to do with Ben having no idea what he's saying (Though he did say "Yeah, they wanna eat us" on returning to human form).
  • In the world of Hanna-Barbera's Pound Puppies the titular characters can speak (English) to humans but must keep it secret, so they switch to dog when maintaining the Masquerade.
    • In one of their made-to-VHS movies, the bad guy disables their communication. So the human friends hear nothing but barks and woofs. Meanwhile the Pound Puppies (now speaking English) claim they can't understand what the humans are saying.
  • Pretty much works this way in Father of the Pride. Interestingly, all the animals act very human when humans aren't around, quickly getting back on all fours whenever any show up.
  • The entire premise behind The Wild Thornberrys is that a shaman cast a spell on Eliza, at her request, enabling her to speak to animals. Interestingly, the first spell he cast caused her to speak in random animal noises when she tried talking to her family (though the shaman himself could understand her just fine).
  • Kim Possible: Rufus the naked mole rat can speak and understand Human, spoken with short, barked and often repeated words.
  • Although not animal talk, the baby/adult language on Rugrats works the same way. The babies can all talk to each other and can understand adults, but the adults can't understand them. Big kids, like Angelica and Susie, are the privileged polyglots that can understand and talk to both (for a certain value of "understand" ... leading to phrases such as "As Bob is my witless").
  • In Cartoon Pizza / Disney's Stanley, Stanley and his friends of the same age often talk to animals. Animals such as Stanley's pets Dennis, Harry and Elsie exhibit human-like behaviors, while all others behave more like animals. Stanley's Grandma Griff also talks to the animals. Though the other characters don't seem to be incapable of understanding the animals, but the animals almost never talk in their presence and, when they do, they are either unaware it is happening or dismiss it as a dream / having not happened.
  • Fu Dog in American Dragon: Jake Long can speak English perfectly well, but can't communicate with other dogs when he is captured by a dog catcher. He apparently needs an English-Dog Dictionary to bridge the language gap.
  • In The Foxbusters, unlike in the book it's based on, all of the species are shown to be able to communicate with each other quite easily. They are also shown to be capable of understanding English as well (in fact it's likely they are meant to be speaking English, rather than animal talk) with characters shown reading, writing and in one episode even making a phone call.
  • In Polish animated series Między Nami Bocianami (Between Us Storks), all animals understand each other but seem not to understand humans.
  • Apparently the talking animals used as household appliances on The Flintstones cartoon fall into this trope. They make some remark about how it feels to spend their whole life holding some object in their beaks, but it never seems that any human notices what they're saying. (It's a little more of a substantial plot point in the Live-Action Adaptation movie.)
  • Scooby-Doo talks in fractured doggie-speak ("Raggy" for Shaggy, for example), but later it was semi-cleared up but still with a muffled dog-like accent. In "Decoy For A Dognapper," he converses with another dog in barks to learn where the dognapper is.
  • Woofer and Wimper from Clue Club talk to each other and other animals in perfect English. To the gang and all other humans, they just bark like regular dogs.
  • All animals in Krypto the Superdog speak the same language, whether they're Nearly Normal Animals like Ignatius the iguana, or animal-like aliens like Mechanikat. Kevin, Krypto's owner, Speaks Fluent Animal thanks to a Translator Microbes medallion.
  • Frequently done in The Simpsons which would often show animals speaking in subtitles.
  • Hot Dog has internal dialogue in The Archie Show.
  • It's implied in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic that Nearly Normal Animal species like dogs and birds speak a separate language from ponies. Fluttershy understands them.
  • The Lion Guard adds a new level to the animal talk used in The Lion King franchise. Animals apparently all have their own species-specific languages (which corresponds to the sound they usually make when they communicate) alongside the generalized language they all speak. In one episode Simba and Nala go on a trip to go to an elephants funeral. Simba isn't fluent in elephant and butchers "He had good on him" as "He had poop on him". Luckily the other elephants don't take it badly as the elephant was often poop covered and that used to make them laugh.
  • Boo Boom! The Long Way Home: All animals can talk with each other, but not to humans except those who Speaks Fluent Animal (like Boo-Boom).
  • Horseland: Animals (horses, dog, cat) can talk with each other and get significant screen time doing so, but humans do not understand them. Lampshaded in Episode 1: "it's like Sarah can speak horse".
  • Green Eggs and Ham: Only the viewer can hear the mouse, who Sam names Squeaky, talking, while other characters can hear him squeaking.
  • One episode of The Fairly OddParents had Timmy pulling a "Freaky Friday" Flip with Vicky's dog. He finds himself unable to communicate with Cosmo and Wanda afterward, but can talk to Vicky's other pets.

    Real Life 
  • While human-like language is unique to humans, many forms of animal communication do function cross-species. Many mammals (humans included) express emotions such as fear, anger, pleasure, disdain, aggression, happiness, and challenge using similar body language and facial expressions. As a result, mammals of different species are able to communicate with each other to some extent, and with us, if we're observant enough. As anyone with an animal companion will tell you, its entirely possible to hold simple two way "conversations" with an intelligent animal you are familiar with.
    • All body language doesn't (necessarily) cross species, however, even species as closely related as humans and chimpanzees. A chimp who "smiles" at you is not actually happy—the expression is what's known as a "fear grimace" (akin to a human Slasher Smile, Psychotic Smirk, or The Un-Smile) and means that the chimpanzee feels threatened (and a threatened chimp, especially a male, is likely to attack). Chimps do smile, but only expose their bottom teeth or no teeth at all.
  • Many primates have been taught a primitive form a sign languages and can easily communicate basic ideas with humans...and even teach this language to their kids. Calling this "language", however, is questionable. One of the more famous examples is Koko the gorilla, who "speaks" a kind of pidgin version of American Sign Language, sloppily and with so many idiosyncrasies that even people who themselves know ASL cannot understand her and have to rely on her handler to translate, much like a very young child who can only be comprehended by their family. It's been suggested by a number of authorities that most of the more coherent statements Koko has been "quoted" as making are somewhere between 'wishful thinking' and almost entirely made up by her handler; the handler interprets vague gestures generously and selectively chooses which gestures are assigned meaning and which are just, well, gestures. There's clearly something like an attempt to communicate going on, but calling it 'language' is definitely a stretch.
    • Some primates, mostly famously Kanzi the bonobo, have been taught to communicate using a series of symbols called Lexigrams on a keyboard. Kanzi has been known to string together multiple lexigrams to describe new things.
  • One animal that may in fact have a language of its own is dolphins, who communicate via a series of clicks and whistles. It's not easily decipherable, but said sounds have been observed in repeated patterns, and, crucially, each dolphin in a pod has its own series of sounds - ergo, dolphins have names. There is one alleged event where a dolphin pup and her mother had a telephone conversation, and the communication seemed to be clear between them.
    • This has been confirmed in orcas. Different populations in different parts of the world have different "languages", and lost, orphaned, and stranded orcas can be identified as being part of a certain pod by their calls. Orcas that speak different dialects can't communicate verbally.
  • One of the more interesting examples of animal "language" is whale song, frequently cited as an excellent demonstration of a Starfish Language. Analysis demonstrates that there are complex structures of harmony and repeating patterns within the tones resembling both language and symphonic composition, with many species demonstrating regional dialects and "musical styles". While the most widely known use is males singing for mates, this behavior is seen in both males and females, and is not limited to courtship behavior, but seems to be used as a means of long-range communication.
  • Cats are capable of extremely complex communication. While adult cats in the wild normally don't meownote  they do communicate intentions and emotions through body language, posture, soft trills, growls, hisses, and yowls. In addition, domestic cats meow even into adulthood, which is thought to be a retained behavior because humans respond to it. Many cat owners even find that more intelligent cats tend to develop "words" (meows with particular inflections, tones, and trills) for things like "Hello!", "my food bowl is empty", "No", "Pay attention to me", "please share your lunch with me", "I'm worried about you", etc. All of this is not quite language, but it is significant in that it demonstrates that cats make successful, intentional, untrained efforts at communicating ideas both with each other and with a distantly related species, humans.


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