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The Sliding Scale of Animal Communication ranges from only humans being able to talk to all animals (including humans) being able to talk and understand each other.

Here are the levels:

  • Level 0: Humans are the only animals that can talk; 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.
  • Level 1: A variant of the above occurs when there are no humans other than Token Humans in the setting. Only one species of animal is allowed to talk, these talking animals being the world's equivalent for humans. Again, the only way they can talk with other animal species is with a translation device.
  • Level 2: Like Level 1, it occurs when there are no humans other than Token Humans in the setting and only human stand-in animals can talk. Unlike Level 1, anthropomorphic animals regardless of species or at least two or more species are allowed to talk. Still, the only way they can talk with other animal species or non-anthropomorphic animals is with a translation device.
  • Level 3: This variant involves a Mouse World in which only anthropomorphic (Civilized Animal, Funny Animal, and Petting Zoo Person) animals can talk but don't talk to the humans in the world. The speech capable species can either be one species, two or more species, or any anthropomorphic animal regardless of species. Still, the only way they can talk with other animal species or non-anthropomorphic animals is with a translation device.
  • Level 4: Animal Talk: Animals have their own language and can talk freely to each other, but to human ears this language is either silence or nothing more than a stream of unintelligible babble. 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), or only members of the same or similar species can understand each other's particular "language". Again, 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.
  • Level 5: Speaks Fluent Animal: Much like the previous level, but with the addition of certain humans who can understand Animal Talk without need for a translation device. Sometimes the animals can understand the person's human words in return, but other times the understanding is strictly one-way. Sometimes, these people may talk to animals in the animal's own language, but for only one species of animal. The example can either be a human world example or a Funny Animal world example.
  • Level 6: These animals seem to be a straight example of Animal Talk, but when these animals ever do talk to humans, the humans can understand them. They are really just hiding their ability to talk to people. These animals only talk to people when they are disguised as humans.
  • Level 7: There are certain kinds of Talking Animals who can talk freely with people (with or without Speech Impediments). Sometimes it may be limited to one, two, or a few specific individuals, but more often than not the ability to talk will be shared by most members of one, a few, or some species. The example can either be a human world example or a Funny Animal world example.
  • Level 8: A lot or most of the animals or a lot of or most species can talk, whether with Speech Impediments or not, and be understood by people. More often than not, the non-talking animals are those that are designated as pets, though there are talking pets. Sometimes, the ability to talk will be shared by most members of many or most species. There is still a language barrier, but some examples are close to not having one at all. The example can either be a human world example or a Funny Animal world example.
  • Level 9: All animals are Talking Animals (or at least all animal species are capable of learning to talk by default), whether speech impaired or not, and there are no language barriers between the human stand-in animals and the normal ones. There are no humans other than Token Humans in the setting. Talking Animal world examples are allowed if there there are no humans showing up in the world or even mention of humans being in the world at all whatsoever.
  • Level 10: All animals are Talking Animals (or at least all animal species are capable of learning to talk by default), whether speech impaired or not, and there are no language barriers between animal and human communication.

Related to Furry Confusion, World of Funny Animals, and Lions and Tigers and Humans, Oh My!. Supertrope of Speaks Fluent Animal, which is Level 5, and Animal Talk, which is Level 4. Related to Speech-Impaired Animal, Talking Animal, and Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism.



Level 0: Only Humans Can Talk:

Please don't list any examples of this type.


Level 1: Only One Species Of Animal Can Talk:

Examples of Sliding Scale of Animal Communication include:


Western Animation


Level 2: Only Anthropomorphic Animals Can Talk, World of Funny Animals Version:

Examples

Western Animation


Level 3: Only Anthropomorphic Animals Can Talk, Mouse World Version:

Examples

Film

  • Only the anthropomorphic mice, rat, bat, and lizard in The Great Mouse Detective can talk, not the non-anthropomorphic dog, cat, and horses.

Level 4: Animals Can Talk, But Not To People:

Examples go in Animal Talk, not here.


Level 5: One Person or Some People Can Understand Animal Talk, A.K.A., Speaks Fluent Animal:

Examples go in Speaks Fluent Animal, not here.


Level 6: Animals Can Talk And Be Understood By People, but They Hide The Ability:

Examples

Western Animation

  • Dogs in the 2011 Pound Puppies TV series can be understood by humans when they talk, but to maintain a Masquerade, they only talk to people when they are disguised as people.



Level 7: Some Animals Can Talk And Be Understood By People:

Examples

Anime and Manga

  • Dragon Ball has Oolong (pig), Puar (cat) and Karin (cat) among the heroes' supporting cast. All are funny animals, and there are funny animals who are implied to be sentient that appear sporadically in city scenes. All non-anthro animals are non-sapient. Even Ginyu lost his ability to talk and be understood when he accidentally changed bodies with a Namekian frog.

Literature

  • A classic example of Level 5 is Animal Farm, where the animals can talk to each other, but it seems only the pigs can talk to humans.
  • The Cat in Coraline, which can speak in the Other Mother's World in both the book and the film.
  • Stuart Little seems to blend 3 and 5. Stuart, and mice, and a canary, can talk and be understood by humans. These small creatures can then talk to any other animal but the humans don't understand those creatures, like the cats. However, at least in the movies the humans are never around when Stuart is talking to other creatures so the cats may be wise enough to act dumb.
  • Billy-bumblers from Stephen King's The Dark Tower are either this level or Level 0. Most can only parrot what others say, but Oy shows signs of actual language.
  • In the world of The Dragon and the George by Gordon Dickson, wolves can talk and be understood by humans and dragons. But most animals aren't like this. There's a Crowning Moment of Funny when Jim (who comes from our own world) tries to talk to a badger, and his friends treat him like he's crazy. He tries explaining that since he has encountered a talking wolf, talking dragons, and a talking beetle, he simply expected that a badger would be able to talk.

Film

  • Iago from Aladdin.
  • The Ant Bully only showed humans and insects talking.
  • Wonderland in the animated Disney version of Alice in Wonderland.
  • Jiminy Cricket and J. Worthington Foulfellow from Pinocchio.
  • The mice in Disney's Cinderella can talk.
  • The Rescuers and its sequel count, but since only children are shown to talk to animals, this may be in between Level 4 and this level.
  • Donkey, the Three Little Pigs, the Three Blind Mice, and the Big Bad Wolf from Shrek and Puss In Boots from Shrek 2. The Shrek movies in general fall either in this level and Level 6, but more like this level.
  • The Chipmunks and The Chippettes from Alvin and The Chipmunks, both in the cartoons and in the live action movies.

Webcomics

  • In Dominic Deegan, some animals can talk and others cannot; according to Word of God, it varies by individual, not by species. Spark, for instance, is a talking cat.
  • Sluggy Freelance, with a remarkable lack of any consistent underlying logic. Bun-bun can talk, and he does have extraordinary physical abilities and an only partially revealed past involving tangling with supernatural beings, but there's still no actual indication he's meant to be anything but an incredibly Badass rabbit that happens to talk. Kiki can talk, as could all the other animals in the animal testing lab she was found in, but it's never said this was the result of any experiment performed on them, and it looks like it wasn't. The Easter Bunny can talk, but he's a... lepomorphic personification? Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer communicates by holding up signs with writing. Frog can talk as a result of a genetically modified earwig altering his brain and giving him intellect (it makes a little more sense in context), but his mate Corsica can't, having remained an ordinary frog like he used to be. Some animals can only talk Animal Talk, which the talking animals may understand, but Corsica is pretty brainless and it's become clear Frog is in fact only imagining her croaks have any meaning — especially as it's not even the same Corsica any more, and he can't tell the difference. Sometimes animals are intelligent and/or talk just for a joke. Sometimes humans think animals shouldn't talk, sometimes they're not bothered by it.
  • Some animals in Gunnerkrigg Court can talk, but so far these have all been doglike gods or psychopomps. Ordinary animals generally cannot talk, even if they used to be humans, though one human character speaks animal-ese to some extent.

Western Animation

Real Life


Level 8: A Lot To Most Animals Can Talk:

Examples

Film

Literature

  • CS Lewis's Narnia falls in this level because some of the animals can talk and others cannot. Note that Talking Animals are specific creatures and differentiated from ordinary, non-talking animals, which can still be eaten or used for labor.
  • Most of Garfield falls under Animal Talk, but one stand alone storybook has this. All animals can talk (except Odie), but keep up a Masquerade for unknown reasons. They break it to warn their owners about a tornado that they can sense.
  • In Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series, all warmblooded animals, turtles, and amphibians can talk, as can some arthropods living in distant realms. The majority also use the Intelligent Gerbil trope, but hoofed mammals and cetaceans have a more conventional animal anatomy.

Western Animation


Level 9: Every Single Animal Can Talk, But There Are No Humans:

Examples

Comic Books

Literature

Film

Western Animation


Level 10: Every Single Animal Can Talk And Be Understood By People:

Examples

Anime and Manga

  • The animals in Kimba the White Lion literally all speak to HUMANS! And they learn the dub language in seconds!
  • In Pocket Monsters all Pokémon speak, except the protagonist's Pikachu.

Literature

  • Pretty much every animal except Toto that makes the trip to Oz can talk there. Toto can talk as well, he's just quiet.
  • The Wind in the Willows

Film

Newspaper Comics

Video Games

Western Animation

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