Last March I adopted a puppy and named him Porter.
Recently, we were playing and I realized just how ridiculous the things are that I say to him. For example, this morning when I woke and saw my dog, I changed my speaking tone and said, “Ooohh, look at hiiiiimmm! Hims a widdle boy here! Hims a boy here with me and I love hiiimmmms face!” Then, I kissed his little nose and hugged his sweet head. I don’t know why I say those things, but I am acutely aware that applying this to any other situation would make me absolutely nuts. This is him by the way:
This, I learned, is called pet-directed speech and there is research that investigates features which differentiate the two speech registers, neutral and intimate, within different constellations of speakers and addressees (such as infant-, pet-, foreigner- and lover- directed speech). Usually we change the way we speak without even thinking about it, but it’s only acceptable in certain situations and is a very funny concept.
This is how Porter responds when I speak with a silly voice:
He either loves it or it’s driving him insane–I can’t decide. I have a friend who used to make a high-pitched sound and iterate something that sounded like “SQQUUEEEGGIIEE!” whenever she saw her dog. Most girls I know do the sounds and/or say nonsense things when it’s a small or baby animal. I imagine that if there was a show that consisted only of baby animals playing with each other, that millions of ladies would be in their homes just making sounds. I would get nothing done. I would watch and clap and jump like a damn idiot, despite being a sarcastic, grown ass woman. I try to hide this side of myself, but if you were to hand me a puppy and a cookie (I like cookies), I would absolutely lose it.
Men are a different story. If they choose to talk to animals with voices, it tends to be a dumb or dorky sounding voice that is meant to be the voice of the animal and it is often accompanied by sound effects. Men really are just large kids, after all. Out of context, how funny would it be to see guys doing that kind of crap? You know, like in the workplace? Or while watching football? I’d pay to see that shit.
So, I’m curious, do you talk to animals in a silly voice? What do you say? Does the animal have a goofy nickname? Porter’s nickname is “honey bear” and when he is wet he is “little baby seal.” I did not choose these names, they just came out of my mouth one day.