It’s an appealing prospect isn’t it, being able to talk to your pets? An Amazon backed report written by consumer futurist William Higham is now suggesting that that a suitable device could be available within 10 years.
Pets are Family
For most people, their pet is a member of the family and, as a nation, we spend a fortune on our animals every year so there is no doubt that there would a huge demand for the technology. The optimism regarding the development of translation technology is the result of research conducted by Professor Con Slobodchikoff at the University of Arizona. He analysed calls made by prairie dogs and discovered that these animals have different vocalisations for the various colours and predators that they encounter.
But would any translation device truly represent a step forward in ability to communicate with our pets?
A Step Forward?
Most pet owners probably already know very well what their animals are trying to say most of the time. If you have a cat you will be familiar with many phrases such as “what’s wrong with you, I don’t want to be picked up” and “I demand to be fed immediately and then I am going to bugger off to be on my own”.
Dogs are generally pretty transparent too. My friend’s dog’s plaintiff wailing when I tried to eat my lunch at the weekend certainly did not require translation. Neither did her unbelievably waggy bottom when I arrived to pick her up.
Translation technology is now almost an inevitability but Juliane Kaminski, a psychologist from Portsmouth University, isn’t optimistic about the potential benefits. She studies interactions between humans and dogs and says “We would not describe dogs’ forms of communication as language in the scientific sense. They do give out rudimentary signals of what they want and how they’re feeling,”
It will be interesting to see how this story develops. Are we about to be enlightened by our dogs or will we discover that we already understand pretty much everything that they are capable of saying? Personally, I think a two-way translator would be more useful. If I had one of those I could tell my friend’s dog not to eat my cat’s food on pain of death. I could also make it clear to my cat that he is an annoying, wilful and selfish creature and I can’t believe that I have put up with him for 16 years!
I Don’t really want to think about what he might say to me, were he able to talk back!