For years, it’s been known amongst biologists that dolphins can, in fact, understand our human vocabulary and syntax. Unfortunately, it’s also been known that dolphins lack the ability to respond properly. Considering the complexity of human languages, dolphins just aren’t capable of making the sounds to communicate back with us— I mean, do you know how to say “Sarah Palin’s latest political snafu” in dolphin? Neither do I, but I imagine it involves a lot of shrieking.
But biologist Denise Herzing has bridged the language barrier, creating a shared, primitive language that would allow dolphins and humans to communicate with one another.
The way it works:
- Divers press keys on a large submerged keyboard.
- Each key is labeled with a symbol and whistle sound that dolphins can mimic.
- When divers press a key, the humans throw them the corresponding prop.
- When the dolphins want to ask for a toy, they either whistle or press the key with their nose.
Now, using the shared language, Herzing and the dolphins can ask each other for specific objects. Herzing also states that this same shared language method may in fact work for communicating with extraterrestrials. If they are able to do that, I hope it’s more complex than a gigantic, spaceship sized game of Simon a la Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Be Boop!