Animal-Directed Speech: A Case of the Iraqw People and their Interactions with Wild Animals


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Foreign Languages and Literature


It is common to find people communicating with their pets as if doing so to their fellow humans because pets are trained to respond to certain instructions given. In turn, other animals have been found to react in certain ways when addressed by humans. This symbiotic interaction is accomplished through linguistic devices that are understood by both. The study will qualitatively examine interactions between the Iraqw, a Southern Cushitic community, living in north-central Tanzania, and some wild animals they encounter in their everyday life. This type of communication has not been investigated in the context of Iraqw speakers and has received minimal attention elsewhere in East Africa. Data will be collected through observation and elicitation techniques and analysed in an anthropological-linguistics framework. This study contributes to our knowledge of human-animal relations by examining the linguistic and non-linguistic strategies and ways of speaking embraced by humans when talking with wild animals.