How close are we to speaking dog/cat?

I was sent a link to try Google Translate for Animals, an app that promised to tell you what those woofs and meows really mean, I didn’t question it at all...

Given the speed and advances in technology these days, we tend to take most things in our stride. Watch 3D films at home? Sure! Scan your own bread and milk as you wander round the supermarket? Why not? Google Translate for animals? No big deal! Okay, so that last one doesn’t actually exist yet but it may well be a sign of the technological times that we live in (or a sign of my gullibility) that when I was sent a link to try Google Translate for Animals, an app that promised to tell you what those woofs and meows really mean, I didn’t question it at all.

dr doolittle

I was too excited to sit in front of my dog, shoving my phone in her face, hoping that when she barked at me she really meant, ‘You’re awesome.’ It wasn’t until I tried to download this wonderful new app that I realised, with some embarrassment, that it was actually an April Fool’s hoax from all the way back in 2010. Not only did I have to admit, red-faced, to friends who I had excitedly told all about it, that it wasn’t actually real, I was also pretty disappointed that I couldn’t find out the truth about what my pets really thought.

What translation service is getting close?

In my defence, transcription and translation services have developed so much recently that something like Google Translate for animals doesn’t seem such an impossibility. The real Google Translate has rapidly advanced from mere text translation to being able to handle photos of menus in French restaurants and road signs in the depths of Arabia. Meanwhile, Apple are getting in on the game with the rumoured launch of a new ear piece that will chatter away to you, translating as you go.

The same companies are also using transcription technologies to enhance the usability of their smart phones, with the option to transcribe voicemails straight into text (currently in Beta mode). However these features are only as useful as the reliability of the technology. Google Translate is known for some weird and wonderful anomalies in its translation services so it may be a while before we see such technologies becoming a real threat to human translators and transcribers. Despite these occasional blips, these developments are breaking down language barriers between humans across the world, so surely, surely, it’s not that big of a jump to break down the same walls between human and animal too, right?

Do You Speak Dog?

It’s fairly normal for pet owners to talk to their animals (isn’t it?), to have conversations while out for a walk, while pottering around the house. We also like to place our own meanings on their replies. We’ve all seen ‘the cat saying ‘hello’ video. Uncanny. Or should that be uncatty?!

Animal behaviourists have recently also attempted to find the science behind animal talk. But I think I’ve already got my pets sussed out; my dog barking and howling at me means, ‘Throw the ball throw the ball throw the ball.’ The cat growling at the dog means, ‘Walk away now or you will die.’

angry cat

So the exciting/ terrifying thing about something like Google Translate for Animals is that we might be totally wrong. Dogs could be mocking our dress sense. Cats might be plotting to take over the world. And imagine the scope for advertisers! Focus groups of humans thinking they know best would be a thing of the past. I for one would love to see a group of cats sitting around a table, ranting about the portion size of their wet food or the texture of those treats they get shoved in their faces all the time.

Until Google Translate for Animals arrives in the app store, we’ll have to continue hoping we know what our pets are saying. Although I don’t think there’s any doubt that what Bailey means here is, ‘Stop asking me to roll over and give my toy immediately, woman!’

Once it does arrive, get in touch with Take Note to see how we can help with all of your animal transcription needs! Why not check out our quote generator to understand more about our prices, or contact us at for more information.