ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Is your cat multilingual?

Updated on July 22, 2020
Shalumba profile image

Current cat mother to Sofie. I have owned a cat every year for the past 15 years of my life. Cannot imagine life without my fur babies.

As a lover of cats, I have always been curious about how these adorable fur balls of nature think and why they behave the way they do. I have had over 15 cats in my life and I have always wondered if they understand when their human speaks to them. According to an article in The Guardian by Davies, N. (2019) Cats can recognize their own names, say scientists, Dr Atsuko Saito, first author of the research from Sophia University in Japan, concluded from her research that cats may understand human cues better than we think.

My current cat Sofie, soon to be a year old in August, has led me to truly believe that cats can not only understand human speech but can understand multiple languages. We are a multilingual home. My husband and I speak English as our main language in our home. My husband is from Germany therefore he speaks German and I am from Zambia and I speak Ila. The cherry on top is that, we live in the Czech Republic and I am currently learning Czech, so who better to practice it on that my beloved Sofie. As a result, we speak English, German, Ila and Czech in our home meaning there is a lot of code mixing or code switching. Code mixing or code switching as described in socio linguistics is a term used when a minimum of two languages are combined in speech either in tags, phrases or beginning or an end of a sentence as defined on Wikipedia. I can definitely confirm that there is a lot of code mixing in my home which has helped me learn some German, helped my husband learn some Ila consequently we are teaching each other some Czech vocabulary.

A perfect example is when I want Sofie to stop doing something, which in this case could be biting my feet. I’ll start off by saying it in Ila “Leka” then switch to English and say “stop it” which she may or may not respond depending, of course, on her mood. When she bites my husband, he says it in German “hor auf”. However, in most cases if she is doing something she should not be doing and we use any of these phrases she will stop. Though some scientists could argue that she is responding more to intonation rather than the language.

The most responsive phrase is “come here” in all of our languages. She has mastered the Ila “Kweza Kono” and the German “Komm her”. No matter where she is in the house or what she is doing any of these phrases will bring her running to you mostly because she knows there is some form of food or snack related to these phrases.

Another phrase we have had to train her on is goodbye for when we have to leave the house. This is to calm her and stop her from feeling overly anxious when she is left alone for some time such as when we are at work, shopping our just out for the day. The German word is “Tschuss” and I say “imbubo” and sometimes we say “goodbye”. One would think this would confuse her but now when she hears any of these words, she either sits on the floor watching you leave or she goes to the window sill to show her disinterest in our departure.

The same is for the opposite. When we come home, we say hello. As a beginner Czech speaker, I can confidently say “Dobry Den” and my husband uses his “Hallo”. She shows her happiness by purring and rubbing herself against my leg as these phrases let her know we are home and not going anywhere for the time being.


Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Sopano 

      3 weeks ago

      Interesting article.

    • Shalumba profile imageAUTHOR

      Shalumba 

      3 weeks ago from Prague, Czech Republic

      Thanks Ivana.

    • Ivana Divac profile image

      Ivana Divac 

      3 weeks ago from Serbia

      This is a very interesting read. Sofie sounds like an amazing cat!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)