How Close Are We to Talking With Animals?

One of the things that we've recognised for a long time, is that as people, we like those who "are like us". That's not restricted just to whether or not we like other people, but also to whether or not we like certain animals. 
 
Science and communication technology have been key advancements that let people know about animals, and see how much they "are like us". Unsuprisingly, the law reflects people's bias about protecting animals as well. We like pandas, elephants, and dolphins - hairy spiders, venomous snakes, scary sharks, not so much.
 
Animals have family units, a sense of society, and character traits that mean they are very much "individuals". But what about the ability to speak? Yes, we know they communicate with each other, but what about our ability to really "talk to the animals"?
 
(From the article on the source page):
 
You may not want to admit it, but at one time in your life, you’ve talked to an animal. Maybe it was letting a dog know it was a good dog or asking a cat where it’s been. Maybe you gave words of encouragement to an elephant or scolded a sheep. Whichever animal it was you talked to, one thing is for sure; it probably didn’t talk back. What if it could? Scientists are working on ways to not only understand what animals are saying, but to one day talk back, forever changing the way we think about them.
 
No one has yet proven that an animal or a species has language, partly because the idea of what constitutes a language hasn’t really been established. But in the broad sense, language should be a distinct and organized pattern of communication, with a near infinite number of combinations, that has been learned and used voluntarily, not in a reactionary or instinctual manner. When your dog barks when a squirrel runs past, this is a predictable and instinctual response, so we don’t consider it language. But there have been studies that have shown some do communicate in a very complex manner that show traits of language. So, how close are we to talking with animals?
 
 
One site that you simply MUST have a look at, is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsUP2dftN9w        - if you haven't seen it before, it's 73 seconds of Jane GOODALL releasing a chimp. I'd suggest you might want to set aside more than 73 seconds because the further clips recommended by YouTube about Jane and her work are likely to keep you glued to your screen as well.