News and views from the heart of England - Issue 3    © David Smith 2018

david.plugpress@btinternet.com

A killer vocabulary

It’s just possible you may never have heard of Wikie. This would not be a big surprise, because Wikie is a whale. Actually, a killer whale. He is 14 years old, and lives in Marineland at Antibes, in France. He is quite famous, though, because he can talk. Admittedly, Wikie doesn’t have a large vocabulary, although, in the wild, killer whales are known to have extensive ranges of sounds, with differing accents and cultures unique to their own ‘pods’.

Wikie was trained to recognise and repeat eleven sounds made by his trainer, and six independent judges were on hand to assess the success of the experiment. The judges said ‘The subject’s ... accuracy is ... remarkable as he was able to accomplish it in response to sounds presented in-air and not in-water, the species’ usual medium for accoustic communication.’

So pleased were Marineworld with his progress, that Wikie was booked to appear as a guest on a quiz show on Radio Antibes, set against 14 year old humans. It was no contest. The teenagers were woefully inarticulate, and their brief grunts simply could not compete with the range of vocabulary exhibited by Wikie.

Plugborough Press understand that Wikie has been given her own prime-time talk show on French TV, although producers are concerned that such a show might be too ‘high-brow’ for the general public.