Monday, March 21, 2005

Talking Bark

I've gotten some interesting mail from dogs out there who are puzzled when their buddies try to talk Bark. One of my correspondents mentioned his buddy saying something like, "MORPHOLOGY! cat quaff hassle cenobite?" The impulse is to try to understand this, and guess at what the buddy means--perhaps the buddy is asking if a cat cenobite has a hassle trying to quaff something? Or, on the other hand, one might guess that there are issues of mispronunciation--perhaps the buddy is trying to say something that sounds like that?

I think both those impulses, while understandable, are wrong. Buddies don't listen, so they have trouble learning new languages. I think that the correct response is to be very, very encouraging. Just bark back! That's what I do when my buddies try to talk Bark--I repeat a very simple sentence, "If you run, I'll chase you!" I go into play bow, and I hope they'll get it figured out.

No luck so far, but I'm not giving up hope.


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