Poodles speak French, and chihuahuas understand Spanish, but dogs in Asia, such as her own, are multilingual, says Maneka Gandhi. “I speak to them in English and Hindi while the house staff address them in assorted tongues ranging from Bengali to Bhojpuri,” said the animal lover who runs the People for Animals website. “They respond to all of us with equal ease.”
I don’t know. My neighbor has trouble communicating with her dog, an uppity mongrel given to cryptic asides.
When watching animal documentaries on TV, this writer noticed that the East Asians in my family have a very reserved attitude to animals, probably not unrelated to the fact they are imagining what they taste like.
But the South Asians in my family (mostly vegetarians) think of animals as small furry people, just like Italians, Mediterraneans and Greeks, but smaller and less obsessed with on tax evasion.
Human-animal communications are on my mind since the King of Crows has been on tour for some time.
This guy, Gautam Sapkota, holds outdoor meetings in Nepal.
After his human audience has gathered, he shouts “Come and take a seat” in Crow (which is “Caw, caw, caw”.)
Hundreds of the large dark-feathered birds flock to the scene, landing on trees nearby.
Later, he says: “You can go now” (which is “Caw, caw, caw, caw”) and off they fly.
The seriously cool Gautam can speak 251 bird dialects. I’d like to see the Pope do that.
Mentioning this caused a reader to forward me a report of an experiment done at Keio University, Tokyo.
Researchers read Chinese and English translations of modern Japanese novels out loud to a group of captive birds. (Yes, I know, how unspeakably cruel!)
By associating the books with various bird snack options, researchers concluded that birds can tell Chinese from English.
Not sure how impressive that is, since even my uncles can do the same, as long as you don’t ask them after 6 pm on Friday nights, when they start drinking their dinners.
Many humans talk to their pets daily. My wife defines dogs as “simple, appetite-driven creatures you can read like a book”.
No, wait. That’s how she defines “men”.
But anyway, our dog wanders in and out of rooms in our apartment all day and her mutterings and looks are easily translated: “Hi. I just stepped into this room to see if anyone in here might give me a snack.”
One minute later: “Hi. I just stepped into this room to see if anyone in here might give me a snack.”
Another minute later: “Hi. I just stepped into this room…” Etc.
That’s pretty much my dog’s whole life, except for when she’s actually eating. Then there’s a gap of maybe 20 seconds before the pattern restarts. “Hi, I just stepped into this room…” Etc.
Talking about food has made me hungry. I might just step into the offices on this floor, to see if there’s anyone around who might give me a snack.