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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Regional Quacks

Air Date: Week of June 11, 2004

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Living on Earth’s Jennifer Chu reports on the regional differences in duck dialects.

Transcript

CURWOOD: Just ahead: tracking the trail of the eastern cougar. First, this note on emerging science from Jennifer Chu.

[SCIENCE NOTE THEME]

CHU: New research from England suggests that ducks, like their human counterparts, have regional accents. According to Dr. Victoria de Rijke of Middlesex University, a duck’s environment is a big factor when it comes to fine-tuning its dialect. De Rijke recorded the various sounds of Cockney ducks in the heart of London and their Cornish cousins at a farm in Cornwall. The mallards were all born and bred in their respective locales. And after some careful listening, de Rijke noticed some audible differences.

[SOUND OF CORNISH QUACK]

CHU: These Cornish ducks communicate in long, relaxed quacks. De Rijke attributes this to the slow pace of country living.

[SOUND OF COCKNEY QUACK]

CHU: These city ducks prefer louder, brassier quacks. De Rijke believes that the fast pace of London breeds louder, more stressed ducks. These quackcents are much like the accents of human inhabitants of the same regions. Cornish speakers are known for their more open and drawn out sounds, whereas the Cockney brogue uses shorter and more guttural vowels. In the future, Dr. De Rijke hopes to take this duck research abroad, and explore the quacks of Scottish, Welsh and Irish fowl throughout the British Isles.

That’s this week’s note on emerging science, I’m Jennifer Chu.

CURWOOD: And you’re listening to Living on Earth.

ANNOUNCER: Support for NPR comes from NPR stations, and: The Noyce Foundation, dedicated to improving Math and Science instruction from kindergarten through grade 12; The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, making grants to improve the health and health care of all Americans. On the web at rwjf.org; The Annenberg Foundation; and, The Kellogg Foundation, helping people help themselves by investing in individuals, their families, and their communities. On the web at wkkf.org. This is NPR, National Public Radio.

[MUSIC]

 

Links

The Quack Project

 

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