Thursday, September 19, 2013

Cow Accents

If you heard NPR this weekend repeating the urban legend that cows have accents - that they sound different in different regions - you need to follow up with the very frustrated people over at Language Log, who have been smacking this down since 2006. (Embedded link to the 2006 refutation there.)

There is additional fun discussing how often BBC Science gets things wrong by sensationalising the stories.  This wouldn't make them any worse than a thousand other news sources, except that they look down on so many others for sensationalised pseudo-science.  Rather like the NYT. Though their formal science section usually seems good - it's the bad science in the other sections, all delivered with that raised nose and sniff.


Sam L. said...

Well, AVI, they are Lefties, an that's what they do, and looking down their noses is how they do it.

Sam L. said...

OK. mea culpa, Sorry I Am, black cows moo in Ebonics? Do black-and-whites moo in cop-speak?

Dubbahdee said...

I didn't hear the piece, and I'm sure it's bull, but it is believable because it is plausible. For instance, I believe bird song is variable within species by region.

See the paragraph on "Why birds vary in repetoire size" and the following.

Bird song obviously serves a completely different purpose than bovine utterances, but still, I think, that is the kind of thing that makes the story plausible.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Dave, that's part of how it developed. Someone asked A Scientist if cow accents were possible, and he said it was unlikely, and he'd never heard of such a thing, but birdsong was regionally different so he supposed it wasn't completely impossible. BBC science then reported: It's true! Many scientists say so!