October 01, 2006

sign language it is not

i meant to post this quite some time ago:
Sign language lesson for deaf dog

A deaf dog has been taught sign language in a bid to find him a new home in West Lothian. Border Collie Johnny became homeless two weeks ago after his owner died.

It is hoped the eight-year-old dog's new skills will make him more attractive to prospective pet owners who have been overlooking him. Johnny knows six hand signals and commands, with "sit" and "come back" being the most important to keep him out of danger.

just what exactly makes this news? every dog owner knows that some dogs will respond to hand signals much better than to spoken commands. that's what they are: hand signals. this is not "language" by any stretch of the term. (sign languages, such as american sign language, it should be added, are just as complex as spoken languages -- they have complex vocabulary and complex syntax, such as relative clauses and embedded questions.)

in any case, i hope johnny has found a loving home in the meantime.

No comments: