Languages

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Blending nicely into each other.

I wonder if our ability to speak is a hindrance in communicating with other, non-human animals, whose ‘languages’ are based more on body signals. We are so wrapped up in our world we miss so may obvious messages directed at us. My dogs and my cats are always learning the other species signals quickly.

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I suspect Charlie likes dogs more than cats.

I’m constantly learning from my pets. I’m sure I don’t notice millions of tiny details but I’m trying to be more open-minded and not let my human assumptions blind me. Funnily enough, it helps me with people, too. I realise everyone is not me.

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35 thoughts on “Languages

  1. I agree with you. We tend to think that we have superior communicative abilities because we are able to use words, but if we pay a little bit of attention to our pets (especially dogs, but I’m biased) I think we would be able to understand them better than we think we can. And they don’t lie.

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    1. When I watch people with their dogs, I can’t help but notice how attentive the dogs are to even the slightest changes in the owners body language and how blind the people are…

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    1. Charlie was Ardbeg’s best friend. And he still looks for Ardbeg in their usual meeting places. And sniffs at Ardbeg’s harness…I read lots about animals but I still can’t find answers to most of my questions (mostly about their emotions)

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  2. I know, I’d like to think my cats love me, but I’m never really sure how to interpret their view of me. We know dogs definitely feel grief, but I also think dogs are creatures of joy. Their boundless enthusiasm for life and endless capacity for love amazes me. I know a few people who have rescue dogs and although they still have issues, they’ve learned to love and trust again. As for cats, I know mine “miss” me when I’ve been out, or are they just pleased that the chief food giver has returned…

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      1. We have one cat who loves to play with green beans. As soon as she realizes they are in the house, she wants one, and will bat it around the house having all kinds of fun. Silly beast. 🙂

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  3. I like your blog so much as a future dog owner. You have a genuine love and amazing perspective into their lives. Always looking Forward to your new Posts. 🙂

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  4. hello lily its dennis the vizsla dog hay wow yoo and charlie do luk like yoo went to the saym tailor!!! i never had that happen with my sister trouble the kitty but of korse she wuz mostly wite and i am kompleetly red so not mutch kolor overlap their!!! ha ha ok bye

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  5. I’ve worked with predominantly older people in care for almost twenty years with many having some form of visual or hearing impairment. It’s difficult at first but you gradually pick up tricks and learn how to communicate with people that can’t hear a word you say or see the end of their own nose.

    You still guide and direct / help move them from one place to another but without the help of verbal communication. Everything is about body language, movement, facial expression and watching carefully what the other person is telling you with theirs.

    Those in advanced stages of dementia or Parkinson’s disease need someone that can be their ears, eyes, mouth and will spot signs of pain or anxiety straight away. Even the tiniest change can be someone’s way of shouting.

    The combination of my work and the years I spent helping to train young and nervous horses has given me a huge advantage when it comes to training dogs for certain.

    Good skill to learn and one more people should try.

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  6. If you are familiar with Edward Hall’s studies, especially his seminal “Beyond Culture” work, it looks like our animal friends communicate in what he identifies as High Context (HC) mode, where most of the messages are delivered and received through body language or facial expressions, rather than explicit verbal code. I think that’s why people of HC cultures tend to be closer to the animal world. Charlie and Lily together are so special!

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    1. That’s a brilliant point! I was focusing on domestication (as pretty much anyone does now) and I know anthropology is useful in explaining some canine behaviour. I think most research into dogs’ behaviour starts with answering questions about what makes a human human. Haven’t read the book, though (I haven’t read so many books worth reading, I so often rely on articles and summaries it makes me feel bad).

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      1. Aristotle thought humans were ‘rational animals’. The self-awareness is often the criterion, but some non-humans animals are self aware, too. The ability to communicate complex and abstract ideas using spoken/written language seems to be unique to humans (but we might soon find out it’s not)

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      2. Aristotle also thought that all people are born bisexual, and the rest is a matter of social conditioning. I tend to agree with him.However, I have never met a bisexual animal – have you? Although dogs seem to respond to social conditioning as you, no doubt, know much better than I. Your last statement is almost straight out of Noam Chomsky! Funny, this is the definition I teach my students.

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      3. I know some animals display bisexual behaviour. I’m not convinced we’re born bisexual. Well, obviously some people are. I have MA in applied linguistics, I’m sure Chomsky influences most of my thoughts…

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      4. Bonobos are just mini-chimps, I think. They look like Chomsky and his chimp Champ (I have a picture of them looking at each other – marked resemblance!). That was totally tangential, just ribbing you a bit about the intellectual idol of many, not only applied linguists. If you lived on South Beach, like I do, you’d believe the entire world was bisexual.

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      5. I know. I’ve never been to England because the only week during the year when you have decent weather does not coincide with my vacation. I’ve got quite a few jokes on the topic of Englishmen & asexuality but they are not appropriate for social media. Come to South Beach…

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  7. This is a wonderful post. Sometimes I see more intelligence in animals than I do in humans (and that’s a sad reality that I hate to admit), keep taking care of them! Good luck!

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