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Sliding Scale of Animal Communication

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The Sliding Scale of Animal Communication ranges from animals who cannot communicate beyond body language (or simple hand gestures if they are anthropomorphic), to animals who can communicate intelligently with humans.

Note: Since Beast Men and Little Bit Beastly people are considered more humans (ie sapient) than animals, this trope doesn't apply to them.

Here are the levels:

  • Level 0: Humans are the only animals that can talk. Anthropomorphic animals can use simple hand gestures to communicate (e.g. thumbs up, wave goodbye), but 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.

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  • Level 1: Animals make human sounds such as laughing, screaming, gasping, and gulping, but don't talk.

  • Level 2: Animals use their noises to communicate with each other. This can be shown by putting subtitles over the animal noises, showing the animals speak English and showing them make realistic animal noises whenever the perspective switches to a human character, or simply showing animals using the noises in a way they never would in Real Life (i.e a group of dogs are sitting in a circle and one of them is barking at the rest of the group). 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). However, only members of the same or similar species can understand each other's particular "language", intraspecies talk instead of the usual interspecies kind. Sometimes there will be a person who Speaks Fluent Animal to translate. Otherwise, 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.

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  • Level 3: Animals use their noises to communicate with each other. This can be shown by putting subtitles over the animal noises, showing the animals speak English and showing them make realistic animal noises whenever the perspective switches to a human character, or simply showing animals using the noises in a way they never would in Real Life (i.e a group of dogs are sitting in a circle and one of them is barking at the rest of the group). Sometimes the animals can understand human language. Interspecies communication exists, but only between two types of animals. Sometimes there will be a person who Speaks Fluent Animal to translate. Otherwise, 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.

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  • Level 4: Animal Talk All animals understand each other regardless of species. This can be shown by putting subtitles over the animal noises, showing the animals speak English and showing them make realistic animal noises whenever the perspective switches to a human character, or simply showing animals using the noises in a way they never would in Real Life (i.e a group of dogs are sitting in a circle and one of them is barking at the rest of the group). 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). All (or almost all) animals understand each other regardless of species. If Language Barriers among animals exist, they will be regional and cultural rather than based on species. Sometimes there will be a person who Speaks Fluent Animal to translate. Otherwise, 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. In most cases, animals use their noises to communicate with each other like Level 3 and 4, but in some cases the animals don't move their mouths or if it's a comic, Thought Bubble Speech may be used.

  • Level 5: An animal who can talk to humans, but not without a heavy speech impediment (e.g. Scooby Doo, Donald Duck).

  • Level 6: An animal who can communicate intelligently with humans.

Related to Furry Confusion, World of Funny Animals, and Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!. Supertrope of Animal Talk, which is Level 4. Related to Speaks Fluent Animal, Speech-Impaired Animal, Talking Animal, and Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism.


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Level 0: Only Humans Can Talk:

Please don't list any examples of this type.


Level 1: Animals make human sounds but don't talk:


Western Animation

Level 2: Animals of the same species talk to each other.


Literature
  • The cats of Warrior Cats have an elaborate society and culture unlike real feral cat behavior, but almost never communicate with other species (the only times this happens are when one cat speaks Dog to make some dogs go away, when an unusually intelligent rat speaks Cat, and when Midnight the Badger speaks Cat). They remain quadrupedal but vocalize more than real life cats.

Level 3: Animals of different species share a language.


Films — Animated
  • Tarzan Elephants and gorillas understand each other.

Level 4: All animals understand each other regardless of species, with the exception of humans.


Examples go in Animal Talk, not here.

Level 5: An animal who can talk to humans, but not without a heavy speech impediment:


Western Animation

Level 6: An animal who can communicate intelligently with humans:

Anime & Manga

  • Pokémon: Most of the Pokemon are Level 1, but Meowth of the Team Rocket trio fits this level. He used to be a normal street Meowth but he taught himself to talk to humans. As a result, he's often treated on par with humans and often forgets that he's a Meowth.

Comic Strips

  • In an odd case, Snoopy from Peanuts is an anthro dog who doesn't talk. Despite this, he's certainly one of the most verbose and eloquent of the characters, verbalizing his thoughts via a typewriter. His pal Woodstock might surpass him except that we don't know what Woodstock says exactly. Though despite said eloquence, he can't write stories to save his life.

Film

  • While most of the animals Aladdin are Level 1, Iago the Parrot can talk to humans.
  • The animals in Barnyard can talk to humans, but choose not to.
  • Dumbo: Most of the animals are Level 1, but Timothy Mouse can talk to humans.
  • The rabbits in Hop.
  • Paulie the Parrot.
  • Most of the animal characters in Shrek, except for Dragon who is Level 1.
  • Underdog, although all the other dogs in the movie are Level 1.
  • The animals in Zookeeper.

Literature

Western Animation


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