Dogs Learning Words Focus on Size, Not Shape

The New York Times:

Toddlers just learning to speak associate words with shape, not size or texture. Anything shaped like a telephone, for instance, might be called “phone.”

But a new study suggests that dogs tend to associate words with size rather than shape.

This difference makes it “very doubtful that there is a single mammalian feature in word learning,” said Emile van der Zee, a psychologist at the University of Lincoln in England and the first author of the study, which appears in the journal PLoS One. “This study may help us understand why humans are more special when it comes to learning language.”

The researchers worked with Gable, a 5-year-old Border collie with an understanding of more than 40 words. The dog was shown a horseshoe-shaped object that the scientists called a “dax.”

Read the whole story: The New York Times

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