Meet my dog, Buddy. I think he’s pretty cute. He’s smart too-he can ignore me ifn three different languages when I tell him to come or sit.
Yep, Buddy ignores French, English, and mmm-BELLY-may fluently. Which language I speak to him depends on who else is around. If we’re alone or having a personal chat it’s definitely English. When other people are around, it’s often French, so that they can understand what I’m trying to get him to do. But, when there’s a new person there, they’re usually terrified, because he’s kind of big. To reassure them I usually throw his ball a little bit. Most have never seen a dog play with a ball before, and that gets them laughing. Then I tell him to come and sit in mmm-BELLY-may, which he does or doesn’t do depending on his mood. By that time people have usually relaxed enough around him to sit down and talk about whatever they’ve come to see me for.
But, when I’m mad or really serious about him sitting I speak English. And, I almost always speak English to my cat, Scruffy. She is not a big fan of Buddy, so she lives in the house. I do speak French to her when I call her by her title, Madame la Chatte.
So, what does that say about me and language? Or does it only say that I spend too much time talking to my pets…
2 thoughts on “Trilingual dog”
This raised a question for me – why is it unusual for your neighbors to see a dog playing with a ball? Are dogs uncommon as pets, or is there something different in the culture in the way they play with dogs?
I think it’s cool that you can talk to him in three languages. All I can say in Mbelime is “a piece of coal” and “a fraction of a piece of coal.” (haha!)
Good question, Eva!
Dogs are working animals here, usually pretty unfriendly, good for guarding the house. So, they don’t get petted much if at all, and not played with either. I guess that keeps them less friendly and better for guarding. Buddy is just huge, so he can be friendly and he’s still a good guard.