Language is a setting in Animal Crossing, Wild World, and City Folk that determines the sound of characters' voices in the game when the player interacts with them. Since New Leaf, the player can't change the setting.
Animalese is the default spoken language of villagers and other characters in the Animal Crossing series. In most cases, each word spelled is approximated using the closest-sounding Japanese syllable (i.e. "Animal Crossing" would be pronounced "Ah-ni-ma ku-ro-si-n-gu), along with more direct substitutions that don't correspond to spelling (i.e. Orville pronounces "Alright" as "Toh".) When villagers say numbers, they will talk rather clearly, like when the player is typing a letter. The name of the player and the name of the town can be clearly discerned as well, although they may also be mispronounced depending on the way each letter of the word is said in Animalese. Laughing and similar sounds are also discernible. However, much of Animalese is completely unintelligible unless slowed down. In the original international release of Animal Crossing, the Animalese was changed to a series of computer-generated voices that could be downloaded on Mac computers as a text-to-speech voice. However, in the Japanese versions of the original game (Animal Forest, Animal Forest+, and Animal Forest e+), Animalese consisted of more natural-sounding voices for each character of Kana and Kanji (in Animal Forest e+) is spoken than in English.
In Japanese, Animalese is more clear and easy to understand as Japanese kana characters each represent one syllable from Japanese speech. For each symbol, the corresponding syllable sound is played, whereas in English Animalese consists of spellings of each letter as each letter can be pronounced differently in the English language.
There are 92 Animalese phonemes in total; 69 corresponding to kana, 18 corresponding to sounds and letter names that can't be approximated with kana, 10 corresponding to the ten Arabic numerals, and 5 sung.
In City Folk, the letters on the keyboard say the name of the letters in the chosen language when pressed. However in New Leaf and New Horizons, the player's keyboard is spoken in Animalese rather than a clear language, although some letters still sound similar.
Different personalities (such as cranky or snooty), animals with jobs in the town (ex. Pelly, Tom Nook), and one-day visitors to the town (Gracie, Wendell, etc.), will have different pitches to Animalese. Cranky villagers have a lower, rougher pitch than a villager with a normal or peppy personality. Different characters will have higher or lower voices. If the text is sped up, the Animalese also speeds up, sounding more highpitched. Happy, sad, or angry villagers will have a different pitch to Animalese. The sound of Animalese differs slightly in each game.
Depending on the villager's mood, their voice will change pitch or volume. Sad villagers speak with a low tone of voice, happy ones with a higher pitched voice and angry or annoyed villagers will speak with a louder voice.
It is interesting to note that K.K. Slider will always sing in Animalese, even if one of the two alternate languages has been chosen in the options. This is true even in the film Dōbutsu no Mori, where K.K. Bossa is sung in Animalese but given subtitles. K.K. only uses seven syllables to create his "lyrics": "na", "mi", "kwe", "oh", "now", "ow", and a softer "mi".
In Happy Home Designer and New Horizons, villagers can sing along to airchecks with the same syllables/lyrics as K.K. There are three voices, with names distinguished in the game files: "Girl", for female characters; "Boy", for lazy, jock, and smug villagers and most male special characters; and "Man", for cranky villagers and deep-voiced special characters. Oddly, in Happy Home Designer, K.K. and Kapp'n sing in the Boy voice instead of their own, likely due to an oversight.
Animalese appears to have a corresponding writing system consisting of a combination of various Unicode characters, including Latin letters, Greek letters, Cyrillic letters, kana, and miscellaneous symbols, along with rotated forms of each. However, there doesn't appear to be any direct translation. On items where the writing is more visible, the letters chosen will loosely visually resemble Latin letters. For example, variations of the Cardboard box in New Horizons spell Fruit like "Orange", "Apples", and "Pear" as "O♇VɧGΞ", "ⱤりりLΞ♪", and "♇ⱷʠ", respectively. Smaller text, however, appears to be entirely random and inconsistent; in the cenozoic section of the Museum's Fossil gallery, "∇ᕃλΔㄩΙПОХƆ" is used twice, appearing to refer to both rodents (leading to the Mouse and Rabbit silhouettes) and primates (leading to the Monkey silhouette, the space for a Human to stand, and the Australopithecus fossil).
Bebebese is variety of spoken language for villagers in both Wild World and City Folk. It sounds like a series of 'beep' noises. When a player catches a fish or an insect, finds a fossil, or talks on any other occasion, Bebebese will play. The player and snowmen are thus the only characters who always speaks in Bebebese regardless of the vocalization selected. Punctuation doesn't have an Animalese variation, so it will always be spoken in Bebebese. The word "Bebebese" is a combination of the language suffix "-ese" and the onomatopoeia "bebe", referring to the repeated blip sounds made when Bebebese is being spoken.
Occasionally, animals will speak in Bebebese, even if Animalese is the chosen language. This is portrayed by faded gray text, and signifies muttered or whispered speech. Prime examples of this would be when Phyllis or Redd add extra comments to what they have stated to the player. Animalese or Silence also can be chosen as alternatives.
Silence is the third of the three spoken languages in Animal Crossing series. True to its name, the villagers and other animals don't make a sound when talking to the player. However, the player's town tune still plays while talking to an animal.
To change the language, the player must walk up to the attic and answer the phone. The other two languages are Animalese and Bebebese. Despite the other two languages being in City Folk and Wild World, silence isn't a language in those two games.
As of New Leaf, it is no longer selectable.
Flowerese is the unheard language of flowers. Peppy villagers mention this language while talking to the player sometimes, stating that they can hear the flowers when they water them and that it took such a long time to master Flowerese. The player can't activate the language Flowerese using the phone in the attic, so it may just be a made up idea created by the peppy villagers.
- Although all animals speak Animalese, some of K.K. Slider's album covers have English words on them. In New Horizons all Animalese writing was replaced with the title in a real language related to the genre except for Stale Cupcakes.
- When slowed down, Animalese sounds very close to English. However, cranky villagers have very low voices, which makes understanding them more difficult without reading the words.
- According to sound programmer Taro Bando, Nintendo filed a patent for the technology originally used to create Animalese.