Blacktip Island Dolphin Squeaks Translate As French, Researchers Say

french dolphins

Dolphin researchers on Blacktip Island have discovered the resident pods all speak French, with differing accents from pod to pod. (photo courtesy of Oregon State University)

A team of marine biologists attempting to communicate with resident dolphin pods around Blacktip Island this week discovered the cetaceans’ vocalizations, when translated to human speech, are in French, the lead researcher said Thursday.

“We’ve been working on audible communications for a while, but this caught us totally off guard,” Tiperon University-Blacktip marine biology chair Goby Graysby said. “We set acoustic buoys all around the island to record the dolphins’ squeaks and clicks. When we ran the sounds through a new artificial intelligence program, voila, turns out they’re speaking French. I don’t speak French personally, but I know what it sounds like.

“The question now is, ‘why French?’” Graysby said. “And why French in a part of the Caribbean, where there’ve never been any French colonies? Also, different pods have different accents—the south-enders sound Quebecois—so we’re also gathering DNA to see whether the different pods have different origins.”

Team members tasked with translating the recording transcripts were stunned.

“We thought we’d get random Pidgin something-or-other, if anything, so this really blindsided us,” TU-B genetics professor Vera Cuda said. “Not many of us are conversant in French on this little rock, and our French is all pretty dodgy. We got Josselin Brittany from the language school to listen to the translations, and it turns out our dolphins—or dauphins, I suppose—are quite fluent.

“Apparently, they’re fond of the subjunctive, which would speak to a certain wistful outlook and world view,” Cuda said. “It’s an interdisciplinary project now, and we’re sending our findings out to other dolphin researchers around the world to see if all dolphins speak French, or if this is a localized phenomenon.”

Some in the local scientific community questioned the findings.

“Dolphins no more speak French than I do Mandarin,” Dr. Azul Tang said. “They ran random sounds through an untested algorithm and got random results. They’re not talking to Flipper. These sounds in no way correspond to any known language’s syntax, grammar or verb tenses. Goby and his gang are just milking this for grant money.”

Long-time locals, though, were not surprised by the study’s results.

“Been warning folks for a while the French plan to invade Blacktip,” handyman Antonio Fletcher said. “Reckon they’ll listen to me now. De Gaulle brainwashing them dolphins was the first step. Next it’ll be reef fish, then iguanas, then it’s fiat accompli—them Frenchies fly in and it’s goodbye Blacktip Island, hello Île Pointe Noire.”

Researchers are continuing their efforts to communicate with the dolphins.

“They’re cheeky monkeys,” Goby said. “This morning I asked them if the sea was chilly and they all laughed at me. Kept repeating something about the ocean being a strawberry. I don’t get it, but I’ll keep trying.”

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