Accepted Paper:

Talking to animals: human-animal communication as collaboration among Mongolian herders  

Author:

Charlotte Marchina (INALCO)

Paper short abstract:

This paper addresses some aspects of the human-animal oral communication as a mean of collaboration in daily pastoral activities in Mongolia. Yells, sounds, words and songs are used accordingly to the animals’ skills in order to affect their behaviour and involve them in collaborative activities.

Paper long abstract:

This paper addresses some aspects of the human-animal oral communication as a mean of collaboration in daily pastoral activities in Mongolia.

Mongolian herders practice extensive multispecies husbandry of horses, camels, cattle, sheep and goats. As the herds pasture in a large fenceless environment, herders often use their voice or audible signals to control their movements on the steppe. Yells, sounds, words and songs are used to affect animal behaviour and involve them in collaborative activities, both on the steppe and on the encampment.

Although human-animal communication is not restricted to verbal or acoustic signals, the analysis of oral communication forms between the herders and their animals shows a differentiation process among both species and individuals. The wide range of terms and yells used in various situations with different herds or specific animal individuals highlights a fine tuned knowledge of animal's perception and behaviour. More implicitly, it reveals Mongolian conceptions of animals' emotions and cognitive skills, varying with species and individuals within the species, and which the herders use to make of their animals efficient working partners. In a dynamic approach, this paper will also provide an analysis of how herders interpret the oral signals from their animals.

Panel P23
Collaboration and partnership in human-animal communities: reconsidering ways of learning and communication