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We're All Starting to Talk Alike (except for whales)

According to speech language pathologists, the southern drawl and Pittsburgh's famous “yunz” may, very soon, be gone. Meanwhile, WHALE accents are getting MORE distinctive (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show). When they dive together, sperm whales make patterns of clicks to each other known as "codas."

Recent findings suggest that, not only do different codas mean different things, but that whales can also tell which member of their community is speaking. Just as we can tell our friends apart by the sounds of their voices and the way they pronounce their words, different sperm whales make the same pattern of clicks, but with different accents. Baby sperm whales babble at first, researchers are interested in discovering how the babies’ diversity of calls gets narrowed down to the family repertoire.

While whales are keeping their accents, the regional dialects of human speakers are fading away, probably due to TV and the internet. Speech language professor Shari Robertson maintains that as time marches on, dialects will homogenize. She points out that in the more compact Northeast United States, there are many dialects, but in the West, which covers vast amounts of geography, there is not a big difference between how people in Montana speak compared to how people in Wyoming speak. Robertson says, "Many of the people who originally settled here were not literate. So all language was passed on verbally, and there was not a written standard to go back to. And so that’s why some of the interesting pronunciations have stayed--because language was passed on orally."

When the Master of the Key burst into Whitley's Toronto hotel room in 1998, he passed on A LOT of oral wisdom, which Whitley frantically took notes on. These notes became his book The Key, which was for sale only on this website for many years, but is in bookstores everywhere now, with a new foreword by Whitley, in which he details all the scientific facts that MOTKE told him that have since COME TRUE. 



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