Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cockney Sparrers

No, not a post about Martine Mccutcheon and other former Eastenders actresses, but about the various accents of British birds.

This post is an elaboration of a comment made on Baklava Shed Coalition about the accents of vegetables. Somebeans and I have long agreed that different birds speak in different accents.

Obviously, the house sparrow speaks with a cockney accent - this goes without saying. But have you considered that the starling is in fact a Brummie? Blackbirds have a soft Worcestershire accent, and song thrushes the closely related but rather more rural Herefordshire accent. Robins have a relatively neutral accent, but are generally rather cross about life.

Seagulls all speak with a German accent - I think this one is due to having watched Watership Down at an early age. Crows are rather posh. Magpies have a Black Country accent (subtley different from the Brummie starling accent). Mallards are from Norfolk, and wrens from Newcastle. I'd argue that wood pigeons come from Dorset, but Somebeans says they have 'village idiot' voices - I won't comment on that, as Somebeans is from Dorset...

However, this may not be quite as far fetched as it seems - research has found that species of birds do have regional accents (as do dolphins, frogs and cows).


chaiselongue said...

I shall listen to birds' accents with more care in future to see where they come from! It's very quiet here in the Languedoc in winter, but just as the people of the Midi come out of doors in summer, that's when the noisier birds arrive: the swifts morning and night sweeping up and down past our house (but quiet at siesta time like the humans), the golden orioles who I think say 'get real!' and the little owl hooting through the night.

The Constant Gardener said...

there is further evidence for seagulls speaking with German accents. If you've ever watched The Rescuers, you'll know that the seagull (well, it's an albatross, but we can overlook that) is definitely German. And in Finding Nemo, though the seagulls there say not much more than "Mine! Mine! Mine!" they do it with a marked German lilt.

So you see - it's true. I knew there had to be some benefit from sitting through all those kids' films.

Gail said...

So love this post...if only I knew all the accent references...but I do get some! gail

Kat Wolfdancer said...

Methinks that the Pilliated Woodpecker has a Yankee Clipper type of accent, short, clipped-off, succinct and the Blue Jay has a brash, broad, New Yorker accent. Mourning Doves have a genteel Southern Belle accent.

*giggle* OH I love it! How delightful!


Arabella Sock said...

So ze seagulls haf German accents!

Next I will wake up to find they have spread their beach towels around my pond!

Sorry, sorry... couldn't resist it..

emmat said...

All the dogs my family have ever had, have had very funny different voices. However they all say exactly the same thing, which is:
"Drop the cheese. Drop it."

More seriously, Messiaen, the french 20th composer who was obsessed with birdsong, said that all birds have a key they sing in! This idea had never occurred to me before, but basically his argument was that music is not something man-made, but a property of the natural world that other creatures can hear too. I like this theory a lot.

Nutty Gnome said...

I love this - it really made me chuckle! I always knew there was a reason I didn't like starlings and magpies - now I know, it's their accents!