Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Cows moo with a local accent

Cows in the south-west of England are mooing with an 'oo-arr' according to farmers in the West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers Group. They believe that their own regional accent has influenced their cows' pitch and tone who have picked up the distinctive Somerset twang. Accent shifts have also been noticed in cows in Norfolk, Lancashire, the Midland and Essex, the latter presumably having an 'Estuary' moo.

John Wells, Professor of Phonetics at University College London, provided academic confirmation: 'This phenomenon is well attested in birds. You find distinct chirping accents in the same species around the country. This could also be true of cows.'

The farmers themselves believe that the quality time they spend with their cows has led to this distinctive accent. In the winter the West Country cows are wrapped up in cow coats and are played classical music to help them relax during milking.

Lloyd Green of Glastonbury explained, 'I spend a lot of time with my Freisians and they definitely moo with a Somerset drawl. I think it works the same as with dogs - the closer a farmer's bond is with the animals, the easier it is for them to pick up on the accent.'

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