Monday, June 20, 2016

Dog Language


Dog languages specialize very rapidly compared to that of humans. No one knows that better than a veterinarian. The reason dogs bark so much in the reception area is that they do not understand each other. They are trying to pick up strains of a familiar tongue to no avail.

Bicycle riders also know that. Since dogs are not highly mobile, short distances make all the difference in the way they speak. As a linguist and a bicyclist, I have noticed the phenomenon when these protective creatures come out at me as I ride by. When I first deciphered a dog language, I lived in Magnolia, Ark. On the west side of town, the dogs had an accent that became very familiar to me. But the mere distance of five miles made a huge difference. “Get away from my yard” in western Magnolia language is: “abbah bah bah abbah arr arr arr abbah mmmgh,” whereas the same statement out towards Logoly State Park can be rendered phonetically as: “woop wooppy warp warp warp gmmph mmgh graph.” So, you see, an entirely new language group exists in just a short distance.

I came to understand this more fully as I considered what the dogs may be saying to me (or about me) according to their body type. I suppose I am indebted to Sheldon’s personality type classifications as I interpret these canine statements. The large muscular dogs often say, by interpretation, “Get that silly bicycle out of here before I eat your leg.” When these big dogs said that, I generally turned the crank as rapidly as possible yelling in my own language, “No dog!” It usually worked. Once I squirted a Doberman with my water bottle and he just sat down and laughed his head off.

Now the fat, happy dogs such as hounds are usually just saying, “Hello, bicyclist. Let me run along here beside you and please my master. He actually thinks I protect the place.” All I have to do to get rid of these floppy animals is to say, again, in my own language, since most are bilingual, “Supper!” That turns them homeward every time.

The most dangerous animals are the little intellectual ones such as dachshunds and Shih Tzus. When they get after you, they are saying, “Hey, you, I am going to trick you into crashing and go for your throat.” They run to and fro directly in front of your bicycle. The best remedy for these is to learn their names. They are often called, “Charlie,” or “Francine” or “Fred” or “Fritz.” Call out their name in English and they will stop, tilt their coiffured head and say, “Where do I know you from?”

So, if you are a dog linguist and a bicyclist, you have an advantage out there on the dangerous highways and backroads of life. Just remember that you have to be multilingual if you wish to understand them. What a dog says in De Queen may be utterly indecipherable in Lockesburg.

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