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June 10, 2009 | 14 comments

Fact or Fiction: Dogs Can Talk 


Are human speech-like vocalizations made by some mammals equivalent to conversation ― or just a rough estimation of it? 

By Tina Adler 



Rough speech Cute, but can he talk?


Maya, a noisy, seven-year-old pooch, looks straight at me. And with just a little prompting from her owner says, "I love you." Actually, she says "Ahh rooo uuu!"
Maya is working hard to produce what sounds like real speech. "She makes these sounds that really, really sound like words to everyone who hears her, but I think you have to believe," says her owner, Judy Brookes.
You've probably seen this sort of scene on YouTube and David Letterman. These dog owners may be onto something: Psychologist and dog expert Stanley Coren of the University of British Columbia tells the story of a colleague who always greeted her dog, Brandy, with a cheerful, two-syllable "Hel-lo!" It wasn't long until Brandy returned the greeting, which sounded very much like her owner's salutation, says Coren, author of How To Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication

But do dogs really talk? Back in 1912 Harry Miles Johnson of Johns Hopkins University said, emphatically, "no." In a paper in Science, he generally agreed with the findings of Oskar Pfungst of the Institute of Psychology at the University of Berlin who studied a dog famous for its large vocabulary. The dog's speech is "the production of vocal sounds which produce illusion in the hearer," Johnson wrote.
He went on to warn that we should not be surprised if "scientists of a certain class…proclaim that they have completely demonstrated the presence in lower animals of 'intelligent imitation'."
Nothing in the last century has really changed that scientific opinion. (No one has ever questioned whether dogs communicate with each other, but calling it "talking" is something else.) So what are Maya and her cousins doing? It's more appropriate to call it imitating than talking, says Gary Lucas, a visiting scholar in psychology at Indiana University Bloomington. Dogs vocalize with each other to convey emotions ― and they express their emotions by varying their tones, he says. So it pays for dogs to be sensitive to different tones. Dogs are able to imitate humans as well as they do because they pick up on the differences in our tonal patterns.
Lucas likens this behavior to that of bonobos, primates that can imitate some tonal patterns, including vowel sounds, pitch changes, and rhythms, studies show. "The vocal skills of some of the dogs and cats on YouTube suggest that they might also have some selective tonal imitation skills," he says.
What's happening between dog and owner-turned-voice-coach is fairly straightforward, Coren says: Owner hears the dog making a sound that resembles a phrase, says the phrase back to the dog, who then repeats the sound and is rewarded with a treat. Eventually the dog learns a modified version of her original sound. As Lucas puts it, "dogs have limited vocal imitation skills, so these sounds usually need to be shaped by selective attention and social reward."
In the Letterman video "a pug says, 'I love you' and it's very cute, but the pug has no idea what it means," Coren says. "If dogs could talk, they would tell you, 'I'm just in it for the cookies.'" 

Scientists have made some progress in their study of this important subject: They've learned why dogs, and other animals, have rather poor pronunciation and, for example, completely botch consonants. They "don't use their tongues and lips very well, and that makes it difficult for them to match many of the sounds that their human partners make," Lucas says. "Try saying 'puppy' without using your lips and tongue."

Despite what they may lack in the elocution department, dogs do communicate their feelings to humans as well as read our cues, thanks to domestication, Julia Riedel  and colleagues of the Max Planck Institute (M.P.I.) for Evolutionary Anthropology reported in March 2008 in Animal Behavior. Dogs follow people's pointing, body posture, the direction of their gaze, and touches for cues to find hidden food, notes Mariana Bentosela and colleagues at the University of Buenos Aires in the July 2008 Behavioural Processes. They also gaze at their trainer when they need more information to find their reward. 


Some dogs learn to understand an impressive number of words, as well. A gifted border collie, Rico, mastered the names of more than 200 objects using a technique called fast-tracking that small children also employ, Juliane Kaminski, also of M.P.I. Evolutionary Anthropology and colleagues reported in 2004 in Science. The researchers introduced a novel item into Rico's mix of toys then asked him to retrieve it. He did so by associating the unfamiliar name with the unfamiliar object. He even remembered the name of the toy a month later. 


"That's the kind of fast-tracking or exclusionary learning, which we used to think only human beings and the talking apes ― the ones taught language ― could use," Coren says. "For the psychologists it was, 'Wow, how did he learn that word?!'" 


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Related Scientific American Articles



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Are Dog Breeds Actually Different Species? 

A humorous take on using dog breeds to prove evolution



Veterinarians Unleash Probiotics to Ease Doggie Discomfort 

A growing number of veterinarians are prescribing supplements of friendly bacteria for dogs, but is there enough scientific evidence to justify it?  




SOURCE of the above article: Fact or Fiction 6/10/09  




Tina Adler : (forthcoming)



The Philosophy of Animal Minds


▷ Lurz, Robert W. (ed.) (Sep. 2009). The Philosophy of Animal Minds. Cambridge University Press.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Hardcover: 336 pages, 5 tables

Expected Pub Date: September 30, 2009

ISBN-10: 0521885027

ISBN-13: 978-0521885027

Size: 228 x 152 mm

List Price: $85.00

Paperback: 336 pages, 5 tables

Expected Pub Date: September 30, 2009

ISBN-10: 0521711819

ISBN-13: 978-0521711814

Size: 228 x 152 mm

List Price: $29.99 


This volume is a collection of fourteen new essays by leading philosophers on issues concerning the nature, existence, and our knowledge of animal minds. The nature of animal minds has been a topic of interest to philosophers since the origins of philosophy, and recent years have seen significant philosophical engagement with the subject. However, there is no volume that represents the current state of play in this important and growing field. The purpose of this volume is to highlight the state of the debate. The issues which are covered include whether and to what degree animals think in a language or in iconic structures, possess concepts, are conscious, self-aware, metacognize, attribute states of mind to others, and have emotions, as well as issues pertaining to our knowledge of and the scientific standards for attributing mental states to animals.

* This is the first book to concentrate solely on philosophical writings on animal minds

* Represents the current state of play in this important and growing field

* Includes a useful glossary of important concepts in the book and in the field as a whole


Philosophy of animal minds: an introduction Robert W. Lurz

1. What do animals think? Dale Jamieson

2. Attributing mental representations to animals Eric Saidel

3. Chrysippus's dog as a case study in non-linguistic cognition Michael Rescorla

4. Systematicity and intentional realism in honeybee navigation Michael Tetzlaff and Georges Rey

5. Invertebrate concepts confront the generality constraint (and win) Peter Carruthers

6. A language of baboon thought? Elisabeth Camp

7. Animal communication and neo-expressivism Andrew McAninch, Grant Goodrich, and Colin Allen

8. Mindreading in the animal kingdom? José Bermúdez

9. The representational basis of brute metacognition: a proposal Joëlle Proust

10. Animals, consciousness, and I-thoughts Rocco J. Gennaro

11. Self-awareness in animals David DeGrazia

12. The sophistication of non-human emotion Robert C. Roberts

13. Parsimony and models of animal minds Elliott Sober

14. The primate mind-reading controversy: a case study in simplicity and methodology in animal psychology Simon Fitzpatrick

Glossary of key terms





▷ 마크 베코프 / 이덕열 옮김 (2004. 11. 20). 『동물에게 귀 기울이기 Minding Animals: Awareness, Emotions, and Heart』. 아이필드. (양장. 464쪽. 20,000원).

▷ 마크 베코프 / 김미옥 옮김 (2008. 05. 06). 『동물의 감정 ― 동물의 마음과 생각 엿보기 The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy ― and Why They Matter』. 시그마북스. (264쪽. 13,000원).

▷ 스탠리 코렌 / 선우미정 옮김 (2003. 01. 10). 『개는 왜 우리를 사랑할까』. 들녘 코기토. (416쪽. 12,000원).

▷ 스탠리 코렌 / 박영철 옮김 (2004. 05. 27). 『개와 대화하는 법 How To Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication』. 보누스. (343쪽. 12,000원).

▷ 이렌느 M. 페퍼버그 / 박산호 옮김 (2009. 06. 08). 『알렉스와 나 ― 천재 앵무새 Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Uncovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence ― and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process』. 꾸리에. (양장. 272쪽. 13,000원).



The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Animal Consciousness

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Animal Minds

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Animal Cognition

Wikipedia entry on Animal cognition 



지금 2009. 06. 13. 토요일. 낮 1시 21분. 맑은 중에 흰구름이 많은 날씨.


콸리아 / 퀄리아 / qualia 


댓글(2) 먼댓글(0) 좋아요(1)
북마크하기찜하기 thankstoThanksTo
임모르텔 2017-10-30 13:04   좋아요 1 | 댓글달기 | URL
아... ㅠ
제가 길에서 업어 온 길냥이 6냥이들과 함께 사는데요.~ 제겐 가족이죠..! 대화를 나누거든요.늘..^^
소중한 윗글들을 읽을 수 있으면 얼마나 좋을까...제가 영어못하는 아쉬움이 난 생 첨, 생깁니다.ㅎㅎ

qualia 2017-10-30 13:21   좋아요 0 | URL
이야~! 냥이들과 살면 정말 재밌는 일 많을 것 같아요. 정말 냥이들이 귀엽고 다정스럽겠어요. 냥이들과 대화까지 하시다니 정말 부럽습니다. ^^ 댓글 남겨주셔서 정말 고맙습니다. ^^