Some background on the shapeshifters in question:
Shapeshifters can shift between a human form and a single animal form; all the members of a given group of shapeshifters shift into the same species of animal. Animal forms are generally mammals in a similar mass range to humans.
- Human form - Mostly human physiology, with some adaptations - enhanced vision, hearing, etc.
- Animal form - Mostly animal physiology, with some modifications - altered brain structure, more nimble digits.
Given as these are shapeshifters, some wiggle room is in physiology is possible if necessary - e.g. modified voicebox, etc.
I am aiming for these shapeshifters to have a shared language between their human and animal forms. Such a language should be reasonably advanced, and capable of handling complex concepts, on a similar level to most human languages. This is intended to be the primary language of the species, but they may also be fluent in other languages (animal or human).
I am aware that fairly complex languages have been documented among animals - the main idea here is to have a cross-species language.
While the shapeshifters reside in a fairly magical world, their shapeshifting is a hereditary ability rather than a learned spell, As such, I am trying to minimize the amount of magic required to make this work.
For the purposes of this question, example animal forms include wolves and deer.
My question is:
Is such a shared language feasible?
- Is there a logistical limit to how complex such a language could be?
What would such a language be like?
- Vocalizations - what is the overlap between the phonemes that could be comfortably produced by a human and a wolf? A human and a deer?
- Body language - how well would it to transfer between quadrupedal and bipedal forms?
- Other potential features of such a language?
Given the answers to the above, how well would two seperate groups of shapeshifters (where each group has a different animal form) using such a language be able to understand each other?
- Would it be more like two dialects of the same language, two closely related languages, or two completely different languages?
- Related: How much variation in vocal range is there between different mammilian species? Body language?
There is a somewhat similar question here, although it approaches the concept from the opposite direction - how would an animal speak an existing human language (rather than designing a language to make it easy for an animal to speak).