We know that cats only meow to communicate with humans, but apparently goats’ bleats aren’t just purposeful as well -- they’re accented!
Just like New Englanders and Southern Belles have different inflections and twangs, these horned little guys drop the R’s and draw out their syllables (or something like that).
Researchers from Queen Mary University of London found in 2012 that as goats grow older and move and mingle with other goats, they develop a “speaking” voice depending on where they are and who they’re with. Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle may have a thing to say about that -- they say she’s been developing an English accent since becoming a royal.
Prior claims had said that goats’ voices were genetic -- hereditary qualities go into humans’ voices, after all, so why would they think differently? -- but this study, which tested baby goats’ bleats at one-week- and five-weeks-old, put them in the same category as dolphins and elephants as mammals who also have accents (who knew?!).
TL;DR: We are no smarter than a billy goat when it comes to how we develop dialects.
Anyone who’s moved from one region of the United States to another could relate to this -- even if our accents aren’t lost, our word choices probably change. Suddenly “bubblers” become “water fountains” and “soda” becomes “pop.” The farther you move from Canada, for example, the less you draw out your
It’s usually subconscious when we swap out our accents (sometimes called a “wandering accent”) to reflect who we’re hanging out with and speaking to. And this isn’t a case of Lindsay Lohan psychopathy, rest assured.
It has to do with the chameleon effect (also called bidialectism), wherein we subconsciously mimic the people around us to seem more in tune with them. Remember when you would get so upset in elementary school because Tina bought the exact same “My Little Pony” backpack as yours, and your mom would tell you that imitation is the highest form of flattery? It’s kind of like that (except I still think that’s BS, Mom.)
It’s your brain’s ploy to make yourself seem less threatening so that you can make friends, but it’s a fairly ancient part of human behavior. You’re not desperate, I promise.
And anyway, goats do it, too!