We all have that friend who studies in London for a term and returns to the US with a British accent. Well, it turns out that goats, too, adjust their accents based on their social surroundings! And as you can imagine, this research has been covered in a variety of print and online media sources, all replete with goat-related puns. (From "You've got to be kidding me!" to "Baaaad call: goats pick up accents", the media did not let this opportunity pass by.)

Genetically related kids have similar calls, but so do goats in the same social group, regardless of relatedness. And as kids get older, their social group has more and more influence on their "accent." It seems that similar calls within social groups act as membership badges and increase group cohesion.

This is strikingly similar to the human tendency to subconsciously "mirror" the body language and speech patterns of our companions. Indeed, even when watching someone silently mouth words, humans accurately mimic accents when asked to speak aloud those words by lip-reading. Likely this helps people relate to and empathize with conversation partners, thus serving a social function. However, this subconscious tendency may also relate to the way our brain is wired to acquire language: perhaps we are so good at absorbing large quantities of linguistic information and reproducing "good" language patterns that accent imitation is just a (sometimes embarrassing) side effect.