From The Telegraph
Moo-Arr! Westcountry cows moo in farmers' accents!
* Monday, 21 August 2006
There is something strange afoot in the country. Farmers in the West have noticed a distinctive Somerset twang to their herd’s mooing. Members of the West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers group believe their own regional accent has influenced their cows’ pitch and tone so they now moo with an ‘oo-arr!’
The farmers couldn’t believe their ears at first, but it seems they are right to believe that the combination of their distinctive Somerset accent and the importance they place on spending quality time with their cows has led to this strange phenomena.
John Wells, Professor of Phonetics at the University College London, says: “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. In small populations such as herds you would encounter identifiable dialectical variations which are most affected by the immediate peer group.”
In the winter the West Country cows are wrapped up in cow coats and they are played classical music to help them relax whilst being milked. These little perks help to create the perfect environment which ensures handmade West Country Farmhouse Cheddar is the best in the country.
West Country Farmhouse cheesemaker Lloyd Green of Glastonbury explains: “I spend a lot of time with my Friesians 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. I think 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.”
The group has also noted similar accent shifts in Midlands, Essex, Norfolk and Lancashire moos.
Dr Jeanine Treffers-Daller, Reader in Linguistics at the University of the West England, says: “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. Standard English can often sound too posh for some people so we reject that in favour of a local accent which is often associated with fun nights out with our friends or, in this case, chewing the cud!
Mr. Wallace would have loved it!
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