Feb 03 2010

Do panda bears speak English?!

A panda bear that has spent her whole life at a zoo in America is moving to China and they are hiring a translator to help her communicate in her new home. Scott thinks that's crazy! Kelli believes it makes perfect sense. What do you think? Do pets understand language?

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Comments (30) -

1/11/2010 4:27:14 AM
BillyBobJoeJohnThe3 United States
I do not think Animals care about language. I think animals understand 1 language and thats FOOD!!!!! Tong

1/11/2010 4:28:12 AM
Kari Gift United States
Kari Gift
You are under the assumption that the bear truly understands and obeys English.....
1/11/2010 4:55:18 AM
whitney h United States
whitney h
Does your dog understand when you say "Sit", or "Treat", or even "Let's go outside"? Mine does. The more you talk and are around an animal it slowly but surely understands what certain words, sounds, and motions mean.
When this panda bear goes to a different country, everything will be different for her. She will have a hard time understanding what they are trying to get her to do or what they are saying to her.
It makes perfect sense for the panda to need a translator. Smile
1/11/2010 5:01:30 AM
whitney h United States
whitney h
Does your dog understand when you say "Sit", or "Treat", or even "Let's go outside"? Mine does. The more you talk and are around an animal it slowly but surely understands what certain words, sounds, and motions mean.
When this panda bear goes to a different country, everything will be different for her. She will have a hard time understanding what they are trying to get her to do or what they are saying to her.
Kelli, your right on this one! Smile
1/11/2010 5:23:47 AM
Marcia Downing United States
Marcia Downing
I agree with Kelli.  Animals do understand what they hear consistantly.  I feel sorry for that poor Panda who has to move to a new country where she won't understand what is said.  I am glad that they are sending someone who knows her and can help her adjust to not only a new language but a new culture.  
1/11/2010 5:29:37 AM
jennifer United States
i think the new zoo trainers need to learn to say I love you in English....... Smile
1/11/2010 5:41:43 AM
Karen Egerton United States
Karen Egerton
Have neither of you ever owned an animal?

God created animals as our companions.  So, most any animal can learn specific words, and many words at that.  Those words, in a different language would obviously not be understood.  And, specifically, the Chinese language sounds so angry in comparison to English.  A translator would be a must for the animals welfare.

1/11/2010 5:48:31 AM
Christine Meyers United States
Christine Meyers
Hello?!?!? This is a very easy one.  The Panda is from Atlanta. They speak Southern. I lived there for about 6 years.  When I moved to Oregon, I even needed a translator!!  It isn't just English, it's SOUTHERN!  Of course that Panda needs a translator to learn Chinese!  LOL!
1/11/2010 5:57:48 AM
Cheryl Bledsoe United States
Cheryl Bledsoe
I am on both sides here.  I have a miniature dachshund that is deaf, and I use hand signals to communicate with him but I also speak to him while I do this.  My husband teases me saying he can't hear you, so why are you talking to him?!  I know that he has learned along with the hand signals the movement of my mouth when I say certain words.  I believe the panda will need an interpreter because It won't "look" the same when they say something in Chinese as it did in English.
1/11/2010 5:59:37 AM
robin United States
Well I know of animals that understand sign language, we had a dog that knew how to spell we could spell the type of toy we wanted him to get and he would.
1/11/2010 6:07:25 AM
Amy United States
My one question would be...will the "tutor/translator" they get be another Panda? Or a human that speaks Panda? Either way I'm on Scott's side. It's weird to me...
1/11/2010 6:16:52 AM
Melissa United States
Since Chinese is a tonal language, I can see the need for the panda to learn what Chinese sounds like.  Even though I don't believe the panda understands all of the words, the tone really would be key.  For example, when we ask a question in English, our tone goes up at the end.  But in Chinese, a change in tone changes the actual word and doesn't make it a question.  
1/11/2010 6:23:40 AM
Carla Rae United States
Carla Rae
People tend to underestimate the intel of animals!  I think it is a good idea to help this panda with his new language.  The sounds will be totally different and he will need to know what the new sounds mean.
1/11/2010 7:59:19 AM
Thomas United States
The funny part is that all animals kept in constant contact with humanity understand us by language and actions.  He will be moved to someplace completely different.  Why do you think police dogs are often trained in different languages?  They do understand the basics of language.
1/11/2010 10:37:56 AM
Nancy United States
Just wanted to say that animals definitely can understand words! My dogs "speak" 5 languages - dog (of course!), German, English, Spanish, and Sign. I speak pretty good "dog" myself! Thanks for the discussion, and best wishes to the panda while she's adjusting.
1/11/2010 10:39:26 AM
Brittany United States
I think that this might be more about the tone of voice and the way things are said, rather than the actual language. After all, the cadence and tone of a Chinese person would usually be much different from that of an American, no matter what language!
1/11/2010 10:43:20 AM
Marnie United States
I think that animals, especially dogs, understand tone and voice inflection.  I could say bad dog in the same voice as I say good dog and my dog would not think it was being called a bad dog. I think they get used to the way we say things and relate those to certain behaviors. Like I tell my dog to go get her baby (stuffed animal) and she will go get it. But I say it the same way everytime so I think that is why she understands. We should ask the Dog Whisperer, C. Chavez, what he thinks on the matter.
1/11/2010 10:48:33 AM
SusanL United States
Yes, the panda needs a translator.  But to really help the transition to a new country and language, the current zoo should already be playing recordings of the Chinese language with some of the phrases and words she will need to learn.  Our dog certainly understood our words...even when we intentionally spoke them in a monotone...animals are much smarter than most humans give them credit for!  
1/11/2010 12:02:18 PM
Meca United States
I think it makes sense. You teach your animals certain commands and they listen to you talk all the time, to all the sudden put them in a new setting, they would have to adjust and learn all over again. It's just like humans. Before we visit or move to another country we must know how to speak the language, learn about the culture and foods before we go. Otherwise, we would have a little bit of a harder time trying to adapt. Not to say it is impossible. But there is always adjustments. With training in a new language, she will do just fine.  
1/11/2010 1:15:56 PM
Betsy Peterson United States
Betsy Peterson
I agree both of you on this one. Yes the animal does go off of tone of voice, this is true; but animals do learn languages, I have a dog she knows the words like sit, stay treat etc... But she also responds to high voices you can call her anything in high voice and she comes over, or you can say something in a low harsh voice and she starts pouting. So I say yes the panda may know english, but I think they should just take the panda and over time it will learn Chinese just like it learned english. They are not dumb they will learn the words they need to know.
1/11/2010 1:27:09 PM
katie v. United States
katie v.
i think that pets totally understand english. how else would we train them? they may not know a whole lot but i think that they definetly understand english. my cat knows her name and it's definetly an english name. same was with my dog. it may have taken a while for them to get used to but they totaly understand it now. sorry scott by i gotta side with kelly on this one.

from M: i agree with kelli!
1/11/2010 1:35:05 PM
alexandra United States
okay wellli loovveee pandas but i really dont know if they need a translator or not they might when ever i speak to my dog like if we say get your leash he will go running and get it but sometimes when we say it in spanish he also doesit so maybe god just made animals to understand different languages. lol!
1/11/2010 1:49:42 PM
katie v. United States
katie v.
i read some of the other inputs from across america and i agree with quite a couple people, like:
whitney h; i like how u put it w/ the "treat" and all those other commands.

Marcia Downing;i feel sorry for the poor panda, too.

jennifer;"i love u" is definetly a important phrase, even for a panda

Christine Meyers;nice goin' christine! good way of putting the question.

Nancy;awsome! i can't believe ur dog speaks 5 languages!

Brittany;ur totaly right! the tone of voice would have to have something to do w/ it or none of our loves would make any sense.

Amy;even though i don't quite agree w/ ur choice, every one has a different opinion and i think u asked a great question.

Carla Rae;i would be pretty scared if i moved to a new place. it would most definetly help to have someone help me understand everything.

Thomas; i totaly agree that animals know at least the basics.
1/11/2010 2:00:11 PM
trevor mcguar United States
trevor mcguar
for super bowl food two part ketchup one part mayonnaise one part mustard
1/11/2010 3:42:52 PM
Erica United States
Of course the panda will need a translator!  If the panda is already trained to specific English commands, then it will not understand the same commands spoken in Chinese.  

Consider that military and police working dogs in our country are typically trained with commands spoken in German.  That is done for several reasons.  It is much harder for a bad guy to get a police dog to stop attacking him if the dog does not know English commands and the bad guy does not know German dog commands.  I cannot verbally control the majority of well trained police dogs I see at our vet clinic either (because of the training language barrier).  Unless the handler is there to speak the correct commands to the dog (in the trained language), the dog does not really understand what it is we want it to do.

Animals in captivity are sensitive to many of the same things we are--especially when we are their sole source of food, water, etc. Laughing
1/12/2010 10:27:41 AM
Melissa Soriano United States
Melissa Soriano
I TOTALLY AGREEE 100%!!!!!!!!!!!
i use to tell my mom that animals understand what your saying, she would laugh but yess!!!!
i agree with kelli animals do indeed speak the same language as we do, so this panda moving to chinas gonna indeed need a translater, lol! ;p
1/12/2010 1:18:46 PM
Audrey J. United States
Audrey J.
I think animals do understand certain sounds or maybe words. If I start speaking to my dog in a different language she doesn't respond.
So I'm sure Panda's could be the same.
1/12/2010 1:31:23 PM
Haley United States
I think yes! They understand us! How else do you teach a dog sit, lay, stay, fetch, roll over?
1/13/2010 3:13:40 PM
Yvonne United States
I think animals learn our language just as children do. No one is born with instant knowledge of how to speak. We learn from our surroundings and the people in our lives. I think this translator is a great idea, poor thing.

Animals learn more then tone of voice. They learn the meaning of the words they here. If someone says hi in chinese they aren't going to know what they are saying or why they sound like that. Smile
1/15/2010 12:10:31 PM
diane United States
YES, i do belive animals can understand whatever language they were raised hearing. Animals are very intellagent, and yes,yes,yes i do totally agair that the panda interpation of the new language. diane of N.C.
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