Farmers in Somerset have noticed that their herds have regional accents. Farmer Lloyd Green, from Glastonbury, said: “I spend a lot of time with my ones and they definitely moo with a Somerset drawl. I’ve spoken to the other farmers in the West Country group and they have noticed a similar development in their own herds. It works the same as with dogs – the closer a farmer’s bond is with his animals, the easier it is for them to pick up his accent.”
You may think that this is just a case of farmers spending too much time in bovine-only company, but John Wells, Professor of Phonetics at the University of London, said that regional differences in sound had also been observed in birds’ tweets.
“This could also be true of cows,” he said. “In small populations such as herds you would encounter identifiable dialectical variations which are most affected by the immediate peer group.”
Dr Jeanine Treffers-Daller, reader in linguistics at the University of the West of England in Bristol, agreed that the accent could be influenced by relatives.
She said: “When we are learning to speak, we adopt a local variety of language spoken by our parents, so the same could be said about the variation in the West Country cow moo.”