Dolphins are highly intelligent and sociable mammals, so the effort to identify and interpret their language skills has been pursued for decades.
In a stunning scientific and biological breakthrough, marine biologists based in Miami have translated one dialect of the language dolphins use to communicate with each other.
Dolphinese, as it has been named, consists of clicking, whistling, and humming noises that allow dolphins to talk to each other even when they cannot see each other.
“This is huge,” said project director Herb Gheron, “And the research has opened up so many possibilities for human-dolphin cooperation.”
However, one of the more startling revelations from the research has been Dolphinese’s conceptualization of humans.
“It appears that dolphins have multiple words to identify and describe humans,” said Gheron. “And even more interesting, there are more synonyms for ‘human’ than any other concept in Dolphinese, with varying degrees of positive and negative connotations.”
The following is a list of Dolphinese words and terms for humans, translated into English as best as possible:
“Ocean garbage poopers”
“Facial blow holes”
Dolphinese even has one word for Homo sapiens that is most closely translated to English’s “N-word,” and is uttered with a double click sound. It has no racial context of course, but is used to suggest that humans are sub-mammal beasts.
Using the word in the presence of human marine biologists is considered impolite in dolphinese culture, but several dolphins have been documented using the derogatory slur at times when a researcher has accidentally dropped a recording device on a dolphin’s head.
(Photo courtesy of Jay Ebberly.)