The Sliding Scale of Animal Communication ranges from only humans being able to talk to all animals (including humans) being able to talk and understand each other.
Here are the levels:
- Level 0: Humans are the only animals that can talk; the only way people and animals can talk to each other is if some kind of translation device is used. Note that this tends to be the general consensus of Real Life; please do not list any examples of this type.
- Level 1: A variant of the above occurs when there are no humans other than Token Humans in the setting. Only one species of animal is allowed to talk, these talking animals being the world's equivalent for humans. Again, the only way they can talk with other animal species is with a translation device.
- Level 2: Like Level 1, it occurs when there are no humans other than Token Humans in the setting and only human stand-in animals can talk. Unlike Level 1, anthropomorphic animals regardless of species or at least two or more species are allowed to talk. Still, the only way they can talk with other animal species or non-anthropomorphic animals is with a translation device.
- Level 3: This variant involves a Mouse World in which only anthropomorphic (Civilized Animal/Funny Animal) animals can talk but don't talk to the humans in the world. The speech capable species can either be one species, two or more species, or any anthropomorphic animal regardless of species. Still, the only way they can talk with other animal species or non-anthropomorphic animals is with a translation device.
- Level 4: Animal Talk: Animals have their own language and can talk freely to each other, but to human ears this language is either silence or nothing more than a stream of unintelligible babble. Sometimes the animals can understand human language. Sometimes, not all species can talk in this manner (fish and evil predators being the most common examples), or only members of the same or similar species can understand each other's particular "language". Again, the only way they can be understood by people is with a translation device. The example can either be a human world example or a Funny Animal world example.
- Level 5: Speaks Fluent Animal: Much like the previous level, but with the addition of certain humans who can understand Animal Talk without need for a translation device. Sometimes the animals can understand the person's human words in return, but other times the understanding is strictly one-way. Sometimes, these people may talk to animals in the animal's own language, but for only one species of animal. The example can either be a human world example or a Funny Animal world example.
- Level 6: These animals seem to be a straight example of Animal Talk, but when these animals ever do talk to humans, the humans can understand them. They are really just hiding their ability to talk to most or all people. These animals only talk freely with people when they are disguised as humans. Some do talk to people, but only to a few select people or as a Broken Masquerade. This can apply to a few, some, many, most, or all individual animals or animal species.
- Level 7: There are certain kinds of Talking Animals who can talk freely with people (with or without Speech Impediments). Sometimes it may be limited to one, two, or a few specific individuals, but more often than not the ability to talk will be shared by most members of one, a few, or some species. The example can either be a human world example or a Funny Animal world example.
- Level 8: A lot or most of the animals or a lot of or most species can talk, whether with Speech Impediments or not, and be understood by people. More often than not, the non-talking animals are those that are designated as pets, though there are talking pets. Sometimes, the ability to talk will be shared by most members of many or most species. There is still a language barrier, but some examples are close to not having one at all. The example can either be a human world example or a Funny Animal world example.
- Level 9: All animals are Talking Animals (or at least all animal species are capable of learning to talk by default), whether speech impaired or not, and there are no language barriers between the human stand-in animals and the normal ones. There are no humans other than Token Humans in the setting. Talking Animal world examples are allowed if there there are no humans showing up in the world or even mention of humans being in the world at all whatsoever.
- Level 10: All animals are Talking Animals (or at least all animal species are capable of learning to talk by default), whether speech impaired or not, and there are no language barriers between animal and human communication.
Related to Furry Confusion, World of Funny Animals, and Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!. Supertrope of Speaks Fluent Animal, which is Level 5, and Animal Talk, which is Level 4. Related to Speech-Impaired Animal, Talking Animal, and Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism.
Level 0: Only Humans Can Talk:
Level 1: Only One Species Of Animal Can Talk:
- All of the dogs in Dogs of the Drowned City can talk. Only one cat named Fuzz learned to speak dog, and Shep believes that dogs only talked to dogs (and dogs only), and that talking to a cat is like "talking to your kibble: a sign that you were four paws in the hole and going under".
- In Survivor Dogs, all canids can speak with each other. Dogs and wolves can understand each other well, but foxes and coyotes often speak in You No Take Candle sentences.
- In the first Felidae book, Francis is shocked that Pascal (AKA Claudandus) is able to speak to humans, saying that cats aren't supposed to actually talk to humans.
Level 2: Only Anthropomorphic Animals Can Talk, World of Funny Animals Version:
- Goof Troop and An Extremely Goofy Movie may seem like Level 1 examples because Pete and PJ are portrayed as Dogfaces, but they are really examples of this level because Pete and PJ are really cats.
- And in A Goofy Movie, Mickey and Donald, a talking mouse and a talking duck respectively, make a cameo. Also, two giraffes are shown singing in the "On The Open Road" scene.
- The ponies/horses in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic aren't all that anthropomorphic, but they are obviously the human stand-in species, though other equines such as mules and zebras can talk (even rhyme!) as well as dragons, griffins, and Diamond Dogs. Although, hydras seem incapable of speaking, and so do owls and phoenixes (although Philomena the phoenix was a Speech-Impaired Animal). There are also many non-talking animals, some of whom are kept as pets. For some reason, sheep can talk, but are still treated as livestock, while goats cannot talk but are still considered as "human" as ponies and other talking species.
- Franklin. There are no humans, but there are certainly non-anthro animals.
Level 3: Only Anthropomorphic Animals Can Talk, Mouse World Version:
- Only the anthropomorphic mice, rat, bat, and lizard in The Great Mouse Detective can talk, not the non-anthropomorphic dog, cat, and horses.
- In Ratatouille, rats are the only animals who are shown to talk; a non-talking dog appears briefly as a background character. Remy, the rat protagonist can understand human talk and although humans don't understand him, he finds his way to communicate with humans.
- In Jonathan Livingston Seagull, seagulls can communicate with each other as intelligently as humans, but there is no evidence of cross-species communication and the book has no humans at all.
Level 4: Animals Can Talk, But Not To People:
Examples go in Animal Talk, not here.
Level 5: One Person or Some People Can Understand Animal Talk, A.K.A., Speaks Fluent Animal:
Examples go in Speaks Fluent Animal, not here.
Level 6: Animals Can Talk And Be Understood By People, but They Hide The Ability:
- The animals in Zookeeper.
- Most of Garfield falls under Animal Talk, but one stand alone storybook has this. All animals can talk (except Odie), but keep up a Masquerade for unknown reasons. They break it to warn their owners about a tornado that they can sense.
- On the Discworld, some of the animals can talk to humans due to high magic exposure, but you didn't hear it from Gaspode. (Who is a good dog and would like a bone.)
- The nearly extinct South American sand spiders from Living Single.
- Mister Ed talks only to his owner, Wilbur.
- Dogs in the 2010 Pound Puppies TV series can be understood by humans when they talk, but to maintain a Masquerade, they only talk to people when they are disguised as people or cannot be seen.
- Elsie, Harry, and Dennis from Disney's Stanley only talk to Stanley, his friends, and Grandma Griff.
- Craig from Sanjay and Craig can talk, but disguises himself as a human in public or whenever he needs to speak to anyone other than Sanjay and his closest friends.
Level 7: Some Animals Can Talk And Be Understood By People:
Anime and Manga
- Dragon Ball has Oolong (pig), Puar (cat) and Karin (cat) among the heroes' supporting cast. All are funny animals, and there are funny animals who are implied to be sentient that appear sporadically in city scenes. All non-anthro animals are non-sapient. Even Ginyu lost his ability to talk and be understood when he accidentally changed bodies with a Namekian frog.
- Iago from Aladdin.
- The Ant Bully only showed humans and insects talking.
- Wonderland in the animated Disney version of Alice in Wonderland.
- Jiminy Cricket and J. Worthington Foulfellow from Pinocchio.
- The mice in Disney's Cinderella can talk.
- The Rescuers and its sequel count, but since only children are shown to talk to animals, this may be in between Speaks Fluent Animal and this level.
- Donkey, the Three Little Pigs, the Three Blind Mice, and the Big Bad Wolf from Shrek and Puss In Boots from Shrek 2. The Shrek movies and Puss in Boots generally fall either in this level and Level 8 but more like this level.
- The Chipmunks and The Chippettes from Alvin and the Chipmunks, both in the cartoons and in the live action movies.
- A classic example of Level 5 is Animal Farm, where the animals can talk to each other, but it seems only the pigs can talk to humans.
- The Cat in Coraline, which can speak in the Other Mother's World in both the book and the film.
- Stuart Little seems to blend 3 and 5. Stuart, and mice, and a canary, can talk and be understood by humans. These small creatures can then talk to any other animal but the humans don't understand those creatures, like the cats. However, at least in the movies the humans are never around when Stuart is talking to other creatures so the cats may be wise enough to act dumb.
- Billy-bumblers from Stephen King's The Dark Tower are either this level or Level 0. Most can only parrot what others say, but Oy shows signs of actual language.
- In the world of The Dragon and the George by Gordon Dickson, wolves can talk and be understood by humans and dragons. But most animals aren't like this. Jim (who comes from our own world) tries to talk to a badger, and his friends treat him like he's crazy. He tries explaining that since he has encountered a talking wolf, talking dragons, and a talking beetle, he simply expected that a badger would be able to talk.
- In Discworld, some animals can talk if they've been affected by a magical accident such as Gaspode the Wonder Dog and The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. It's also confirmed that ordinary animals have their own languages; Gaspode can talk to other dogs (Moving Pictures and Men at Arms) and wolves (The Fifth Elephant) and it's implied that the Educated Rodents can talk to ordinary rats but generally don't feel there's much they can say to them.
- In Dominic Deegan, some animals can talk and others cannot; according to Word of God, it varies by individual, not by species. Spark, for instance, is a talking cat.
- Sluggy Freelance, with a remarkable lack of any consistent underlying logic. Bun-bun can talk, and he does have extraordinary physical abilities and an only partially revealed past involving tangling with supernatural beings, but there's still no actual indication he's meant to be anything but an incredibly badass rabbit that happens to talk. (He was bought from a magic shop when Torg was looking for a talking animal, but it's later shown he didn't just magically appear to fulfill that demand.) Kiki the ferret can talk, as could all the other animals in the animal testing lab she was found in, but it's never said this was the result of any experiment performed on them, and it looks like it wasn't. The Easter Bunny can talk, but he's a... lepomorphic personification? Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer communicates by holding up signs with writing. Frog can talk as a result of a genetically modified earwig altering his brain and giving him intellect (it makes a little more sense in context), but his mate Corsica can't, having remained an ordinary frog like he used to be. Some animals can only talk Animal Talk, which the talking animals may understand, but Corsica is pretty brainless and it's become clear Frog is only imagining her croaks have any meaning especially as it's not even the same Corsica any more, and he can't tell the difference. Sometimes animals are intelligent and/or talk just for a joke. Sometimes humans think animals shouldn't talk (or talking animals think humans should think animals shouldn't talk), sometimes they're not bothered by it.
Torg: A talking frog! What the hell?!? Mammals and inanimate objects are one thing, but talking amphibians just stretches credulity!
- Some animals in Gunnerkrigg Court can talk, but so far these have all been doglike gods or psychopomps. Ordinary animals generally cannot talk, even if they used to be humans, though one human character speaks animal-ese to some extent.
- The monkeys in Family Guy, not counting Funny Animals Brian and Jasper.
- Also, a horse in one episode who is voiced by Gilbert Gottfried.
- This example may fall between this level and Level 8.
- Tim the bear from The Cleveland Show.
- Scooby-Doo and his relatives. Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated explicitly states that only some animals are able to speak to people because they're the descendants of animals granted speech from being possessed by extra-dimensional beings.
- The titular character of Martha Speaks.
- Also, there is a parrot in one episode (Martha: Deadline Doggie) that can talk.
- Top Cat only showed humans and cats talking.
- Astro in The Jetsons.
- The mice and Snowball the Hamster from Pinky and the Brain can talk.
- Dukey from Johnny Test can be understood by people in general, but he hides his speech capabilities from any person except Johnny and his twin sisters.
- Nesmith the chimpanzee from Planet Sheen.
- Jeff the spider from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy.
- Watch My Chops: Corneil can talk to people, but he hides that ability from everyone except Bernie.
- Flash the Rabbit and Molecom from Roary the Racing Car.
- Clams and zebras from Spongebob Squarepants talk. Even though there are two Token Humans, this is a Funny Animal world.
- Paco from Maya & Miguel.
- Chip 'n Dale, Goofy's mynah bird Ellsworth, and Pluto the Pup (albeit extremely speech impaired) and Humphrey the bear and Louie the mountain lion (albeit both unintelligibly) from the Classic Disney Shorts. Even though there is at least one Token Human, this is a Funny Animal world.
- Monroe from The Life and Times of Juniper Lee.
- Fu Dog from American Dragon: Jake Long.
- Elsie, Harry, and Dennis from Disney's Stanley.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a bit weird, there are no humans (unlike many previous incarnations) but ponies seem to fill the same niche. Most hoofed species (and mythological beasts) can speak the same language as ponies but others such as dogs and rabbits cannot, though they generally understand Fluttershy at the very least.
- The four animal philosophers from Adventures from the Book of Virtues.
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983): Cringer (an Eternian tiger) can talk to humans. This isn't common to all animals.
- In the related She-Ra: Princess of Power spin-off, Swift Wind (a winged unicorn) can talk to humans. Again, it's not because all creatures can talk to human. Some, however, clearly can. (Later it's shown regular pegacorns can speak with humans as well.)
- South Park has a few examples, including Retarded Fish and The Christmas Critters. Also, Mickey Mouse whenever he shows up in parodied form in the show.
- The dogs in PAW Patrol
- Gef the Talking Mongoose. Assuming he was real and not a hoax, the jury is still out as to whether he was in fact an animal that could talk, a poltergeist, or a cryptid.
- Hoover the seal showed an ability to mimic "Get outta here!" in a thick New England accent.
- Alex. Just Alex.
- This expert thinks she managed to do it.
- And some other examples on Wikipedia.
Level 8: A Lot Or Most Animals Can Talk:
- Every animal in Fantastic Mr. Fox except the dogs, chickens, and wolf.
- Every animal in Legend Of The Guardians The Owls Of Ga Hoole except the Tasmanian Devils.
- C. S. Lewis's Narnia falls in this level because some of the animals can talk and others cannot. Note that Talking Animals are specific creatures and differentiated from ordinary, non-talking animals, which can still be eaten or used for labor.
- In Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series, all warmblooded animals, turtles, and amphibians can talk, as can some arthropods living in distant realms. The majority also use the Intelligent Gerbil trope, but hoofed mammals and cetaceans have a more conventional animal anatomy.
- The Animal Crossing games take place in a World of Funny Animals, with the Player Character being the Token Human. All of the villagers and NPCs can talk, but there are also non-talking animals, most notably fish.
- Garfield's Fun Fest handles its animal characters this way.
- The anthropomorphic animals of Sonic the Hedgehog can speak in human language. The non-anthropomorphic ones don't.
- Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! is a World of Funny Animals example.
- Most of the animals including Courage the Cowardly Dog can talk.
- He can talk to the audience, mostly in catchphrases, but to Muriel and Eustace Bagge it's yips and gibberish with various levels of comprehension.
- Spliced is mostly set in a World of Funny Animals, but humans exist on the show, though none are expressly shown. (An interviewer may be human, but he is off camera.)
- Most Looney Tunes animal characters can talk.
Level 9: Every Single Animal Can Talk, But There Are No Humans:
Level 10: Every Single Animal Can Talk And Be Understood By People:
Anime and Manga
- The animals in Kimba the White Lion literally all speak to humans, and learn the dub language in seconds.
- In Pocket Monsters all Pokémon speak, except the protagonist's Pikachu.
- Andalasia in Enchanted.
- Bee Movie
- Most of the animals in Wonderland in the Disney live action Alice in Wonderland (2010).
- Olive, the Other Reindeer
- The Legend of the Titanic starts at level 4, but then goes to full-blown level 8 in its sequel.
- The Jungle Book 2 seems to be at this level, though only Shanti, Mowgli, and Ranjan are shown talking to the animals.
- Pretty much every animal except Toto that makes the trip to Oz can talk there. Toto can talk as well, he's just quiet.
- The Wind in the Willows
- In Get Fuzzy, pretty much every animal character seems to have this ability.
- Most of the animals in Pearls Before Swine can talk.
- Bloom County
- Talk of this element being removed is cited in the footnotes of the first volume of the Complete Collection as why the movie fell through.
- Wandering Hamster, up to including Bob The Hamster himself.
- Most animals in Hanna-Barbera's Saturday Morning Cartoons including Yogi Bear can talk.
- Most animals in The Flintstones can talk except Dino.
- Dino only spoke in the episode he debuted in.
- Every animal in Little Bear can speak English but Tutu the dog speaks French instead.
- Ni Hao, Kai-Lan
- Most animals in Dora the Explorer.
- Most animals in Go, Diego, Go!.
- The show implies Level 4 actually. When Baby Jaguar appears in Dora the Explorer, we don't understand him.
- The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!.
- Most animals in Super Why!.
- As little as characters talk in Flip the Frog, it seems that everyone seems to understand everyone verbally and nonverbally. Often even inanimate objects join the fun.
- The South Park episode "Woodland Critter Christmas" is at this level.
- The Amazing World of Gumball usually seems to be a Level 2, as most episodes are just about the Funny Animal citizenry of Elmore, but it's actually a Level 10. The people of Elmore understand humans that are occasionally shown on television and can also talk to the non-anthropomorphic animals, plants, and every other thing—they just choose not to most of the time.