Saturday, July 28, 2007

My mom, the linguist

My mother is a highly-educated woman, having gone to both college and law school. She writes and speaks English perfectly well, as it's her native tongue, but she's never had quite the same luck with other languages. In fact, one of her college professors once told her that when she spoke Spanish, it sounded like Chinese. This should give you some concept of her foreign language abilities.

She is doomed, apparently, to forever communicate only in English.

Except, today, we discovered that she knows how to speak "Cat". Zoe entered the room where we were, briefly, and then turned and strolled back into the hallway. My mother, in an effort to entice her back into the bedroom, meowed at her. To our utter amazement, Zoe actually stopped in her tracks, turned around, and meowed back at my mother. I have no idea what they said to each other, but they were both happy. =)

5 comments:

David said...

I've long been in the habit of meowing at cats, and they almost always meow back, or at least react with interest and attention, and usually with affection as well. (Human onlookers tend to react differently. They sidle away.)

But I don't know what I'm saying to the cat, except maybe "Hi! I'm a human being who really likes cats!"

I also really, really like dogs, but I don't think barking at them would have an equivalent effect. It's probably all in the tone of voice.

kathie said...

I do this too...don't know why. Maybe a little like mooing at cows? It's funny though, David, I wouldn't bark at a dog either. Just one of those things, I guess. Bravo to your mom, Jenny, for finding her language abilities lie (lay?) with something less traditional.

David said...

Barking can seem agressive. I think that's the problem. Dogs know to bark in a friendly way, but I don't.

On the other hand, dogs really seem to like being talked to. Some dogs respond with modulated growls and barks that seem to be an attempt to imitate human speech. Even without that, dogs usually react with delight if you speak to them as though they were a fellow human being.

Patrick McNamara said...

Appearantly mewoing is something cats do to communicate with humans. They rarely do it with other cats, aside from showing aggression.

Keli said...

Is it possible your mom has the capability of thinking like a cat? Hence, she is able to understand and communicate with felines. Perhaps if she could think like a Spaniard...