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Ventriloquist Animal

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After traveling with the three for a day, Fritti finally realized that Nightcatcher's stolidity was involuntary. He was mute, and communicated only in the soundless ways given to the Common Singing.

In fiction, not all animals who can talk necessarily need to move their mouths to talk. Animals can talk without ever moving their mouth.

This is common across-the-board for dragons and One-Winged Angel forms. This trope is also common in comic strips with Intellectual Animals. The animals' dialogue is done with thought bubbles, implying that it's their thoughts, which makes senses when there are people around, but not when they're conversing with other animals.

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This trope is usually invoked by works that see animals talking like humans as being too close to the Uncanny Valley. While this trope might seem like the animals are communicating telepathically (and sometimes they are), this trope often has implications that the animal's language isn't purely verbal and that it might involve other more animalistic elements, like body language or scent.

See Translator Microbes for when the lack of mouthmoving is handwaved by a translation device.


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Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • Cat from Dear Kitten speaks to Kitten seemingly telepathically.

    Anime & Manga 
  • The dogs in Massugu ni Ikou almost never move their mouths to talk.
  • The wolves in Wolf's Rain only physically move their mouths to talk while under the guise of their human form illusions.
  • Sakamoto in Nichijou doesn't seem to open his mouth to talk, though in this case it's more a product of the manga's art style not giving him a visible mouth. Instead, he bobs up and down in time with his syllables.
  • For a given value of being an animal, but MewTwo of Pokémon typically simply broadcasts his thoughts psychically, speaking without the need of moving his lips.

    Comic Books 
  • In Tintin, this is the way Milu/Snowy, Tintin's white Fox Terrier, speaks. But different from other examples, this just happens in the comic book but not in the animated series nor the movies.
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    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield: Garfield speaks in Animal Talk like this. The first animated adaptations of Garfield kept this aspect and had Garfield and the other animals not move their lips when they "speak".
  • Peanuts: In the comics, Charlie Brown's pet dog Snoopy speaks like this. The Peanuts specials skirted the issue altogether by making Snoopy a mute character. note 
  • In Overboard Louie (a Labrador Retriever, who wears only a dog collar and walks on all four paws) "talks" in thought balloons. On the other hand Raymond (an anthropomorphized dog who walks upright and wears pants) talks with regular speech balloons, as does Scratch (an anthropomorphized cat who, like Raymond, walks upright and wears pants) and the ship's anthropomorphized mice (who are mouse-sized but wear clothes, walk upright, drive little mouse-sized cars, and fly little mouse-sized airplanes).

    Films — Animation 
  • None of the animals in Princess Mononoke move their mouths when they talk. Justified in that they're all gods.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This trope is used with Marley in Marley & Me: The Puppy Years.
  • The Disney comedy The Cat from Outer Space has a feline alien make an emergency landing on Earth. He can do quite a bit with the help of his techno-collar, which gives him telepathy and telekinesis. He's nicknamed Jake by scientist Frank Wilson, and Jake informs Frank that without his collar, he's effectively an ordinary housecat. All Jake's dialog is telepathic, and Disney used an actual housecat for the filming.
  • The pets in Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey talk but don't move their mouths to do it.

    Literature 
  • The cross-species Common Tongue "Common Singing" in Tailchaser's Song is partially verbal, partially body language, and partially scent. This is how mute cats, like Nightcatcher (whose vocal cords were damaged in a fight), can communicate with other cats without much issue. Common Singing is actually more posture, gesture, and scent based than it is verbal. In contrast, "Higher Singing", which is specific to each species, is predominantly verbal.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The protagonist of Wishbone doesn't move his mouth when talking.
  • Mist and the rest of the animals in Mist: Sheepdog Tales are this.
  • In the Arrowverse, Grodd uses his telepathic powers to talk instead of vocalizing.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dragons in Shadowrun need to communicate telepathically or using spells to project their voice (as Hestaby does) while in dragon form.

    Video Games 
  • Most animals in Ōkami remain static when speaking to Amaterasu. While the game doesn't give most of its characters visible mouths with which to speak, they usually bob up and down while talking; save for more anthropomorphic characters like the Molesters and Sparrow Clan, the animals that do communicate— whether they be regular animals or gods— give no gestures to indicate speech. This even extends to Orochi, who does have a visible and mobile mouth, but doesn't actually use it to speak (possibly justified in his case, given that reptilian body structures aren't particularly well-equipped for vocalizing past grumbles and roars).

    Web Comics 
  • Played with in Freefall: Florence, an Uplifted red wolf, had to learn ventriloquism to speak because she has no lips. However she still moves her mouth when talking.

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