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In My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic I've noticed that creatures such as ponies, buffalo, and sheep will speak, while rabbits and other woodland creatures make vaguely intelligible chirping/babbling noises.

So, are all hoofed creatures sentient? And if so, why are sheep still corralled? What about pigs?

[Edit]: Oh yeah, dragons talk too, doi. Okay, but they're obviously magical creatures. (We don't have dragons in our world.) I'm asking about who else has sentience / speech capability but isn't dragons and is hoofed.

  • I would exclude all fantastical creatures from the list of "sentient/irrational", and assume all of them are sentient unless expressly shown not. – Mindwin Jul 28 '14 at 14:54
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+50

In My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic I've noticed that creatures such as ponies, buffalo, and sheep will speak, while rabbits and other woodland creatures make vaguely intelligible chirping/babbling noises.

Let's start with making the distinction between sentience and ability for speech. A doesn't necessarily imply B, and B doesn't necessarily apply A (I think anyway; depends on how you classify creatures such as parrots). For instance, monkeys have demonstrated some level of sentience but don't speak a complex language (recent attempts to make them capable of reading nonwithstanding).

So, are all hoofed creatures sentient?

So far as we know, yes. We've seen (on top of ponies obviously) zebras...

Zecora

...buffalo...

Buffalo

...cows...

Cows

...Minotaurs...

Minotaur

...goats...

Goats

...gryffins...

Gryffins

...and sheep.

sheep

All have demonstrated both being sentient and having the ability to talk.

(In addition, it's of note that the goats in Putting Your Hoof Down are likely sentient though do not talk in that episode)

And if so, why are sheep still corralled? What about pigs?

The long and short of it is that they don't deal with this topic a significant amount; it's definitely a puzzling aspect of the episodes they appear in.

As far as pigs, I would hazard a guess they are sentient. The Wikia section on pigs explains more.

Even though Ponies do not eat meat, Lauren Faust explains the reason why pigs are raised is because the pigs "needed a place to stay" and might be used for finding truffles. (Source.)

Pigs

  • If you could include screen captures of the four creatures you've mentioned as having been seen speaking, I'll accept + award bounty. :) – Aarthi May 4 '12 at 1:29
  • @Aarthi: Certainly. – RCIX May 4 '12 at 2:07
  • You are excellent, dear sir! – Aarthi May 4 '12 at 2:08
  • @Aarthi: Thank you kindly :) – RCIX May 4 '12 at 2:12
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    the griffin is of the lion butt variant->not hooved – ratchet freak Jan 14 '14 at 9:00
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Dragons are sentient, and I'm pretty sure they don't have hooves. I can't find an explanation for the Apples keeping sheep, but the pigs needed a home and can find truffles. Moreover, note that being able to speak English Equestrian is not necessary for sentience; among other examples, the animals that compete for Rainbow Dash's affection in "May the Best Pet Win" seem quite capable of rational thought, performing activities such as freeing Rainbow from being trapped under a rock, making music with crystal glasses, knitting a sweater, and (failing at) doing magic tricks. Also, do you really think Angel doesn't know what he's doing?

  • Are you saying cute little innocent Angel may be... MANIPULATING ponies? NEVER! – Layna Apr 3 '18 at 13:12
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Originally, when the show started and its creator Lauren Faust was still involved in taking plot-relevant decisions that may have been true.

As other answers suggested, there are some clues that only some specific types of animals were considered sentient, with others relegated to minor roles such as pets or woodland creatures. Multiple sources (including the MLP wikia page) report that the Winter Wrap-up commentary on the Season one original boxed set contained a line from Robert Fewkes (who worked as a production executive for the series) in which he claims "the rule is only the hoofed creatures can speak in the show (excluding other mythological creatures)".

That said, that has changed recently. The MLP 2017 movie has introduced multiple new characters that albeit not-hoofed are fully capable of speaking. Without going over any spoiler, we now have cat people, bird people, fish people and so on.

enter image description here

As a quick example, this is Capper, one of the "cat people". As you can see he clearly isn't an hoofed creature, yet he is capable of speaking and is actually pretty smart too.

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