If you’ve been paying any attention to the news lately, you’ve probably heard about an Hungarian study that indicates dogs understand human language in a much more sophisticated manner than previously thought.
Eniko Kubinyi/Eotvos Lorand University
The study exposed 13 dogs to recordings of their owners’ voices in both appreciative and neutral tones while observing their brains with a functional MRI. Some of the phrases were meaningful — szép munka! (well done!), for example — while others were meaningless. (These were taken from Donald Trump’s varying speeches on immigration policy.) It turns out dogs register not only intonation, but meaning: they recognized praise only when praise words were matched with an appreciative tone.
To which my cats say, in a neutral tone: Nagy ügy. A kutyák alázatos és méltatlan. (Big deal. Dogs are obsequious and undignified.)
Which the researchers kind of conceded. In an e-mail to the Associated Press, study lead…
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