Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Dog Post

Here's my guess (at the age of five) of what a dog might look like:

The text says:  A dog if it is.

It looks like a horse, and that can be explained by the fact that my grandparents had horses but nobody near me owned a dog.  There are deep political insights  to be drawn from that!  The dangers of inferring wider questions from one's own life experiences, the dangers of using analogous thinking and the importance of direct evidence before making wider generalizations.

What I really wanted to write about is the way little children are asked "What does a dog say?" and the answer varies by language, though all the phrases are onomatopoetic.  So what does a dog say in your world?  And which of the many possible correct answers actually IS the correct one?

That's pretty tricky.  When I learned to "read" dog language better I also learned that there is no one single thing that "a dog" says.  They speak, and sometimes they speak in sentences.  The bark which tells a visitor is approaching sounds quite different from the one which asks someone to play with that dog or the one which asks for help.