Follow by Email

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Roll.... or role? Why do Humans complicate their language?

Dear George,
You are such an amazing agony aunt; you study humans' behaviour, you write books, articles and you do a lot of studies and research so, maybe you can explain to me the semantics of "roll". For example, when I want to say something....I meow! And, the pronunciation, the sound and the spelling of "my meows" are all the same; the way I write, same way I read and same way I spell. Why is English such a messed up language? Why can two words have quite the same pronunciation/sound but yet different spelling and completely different meanings?  I found this as being very confusing for humans. Maybe that's why we have so many problems training them.
The word in question is "roll" and the problem is my mummy! I know English is not her first language (she speaks more than one language but it doesn't do her any good as you'll see). The other day I've heard her talking with a friend about "Fluffy's role" and I thought: yes! she finally got it. Then I've seen her e-mailing her friend my photo (attached here) as "Fluffy's roll". I realized that we are talking about different things.  When I hear the "word in question" ....I'm thinking of a "role" and my role is to run the house and train my humans. When she hears the "word" she's thinking of one of my relaxing poses asking for a belly rub. Later that day as I was meowing my frustration in regards to her poor linguistic abilities ...I realized something even more disturbing; to her...if I "roll" ....I'm her darling! But if I exercise my "role" (of running the house)...I'm a tyrant, a spoiled brat! See where I'm getting? How can an extra "l" in the absence of an "e" make such a difference? Can you explain this to me George? And, last but not do I make my mummy skip that extra "l" and add an "e" so we'll both be on the same page and talking same language and that means  accepting "my role"?

Dear Fluffy,
Sometimes I despair at the inferior species. Like you, I find decoding human vocalisations very difficult - same sound, different meaning. It's not just the ridiculous spelling (mouse tracks on a page or screen is what I call them)! It's the sheer impenetrability of their sounds.
When I meow, it is purrfectly clear what it means. The pitch, the intensity, and the context distinguish between Meow meaning "I want some of that.": Meow meaning "Open the door please,": Meow meaning "Wake up,": Meow meaning "I am upset. Get me out of here,": Meow meaning "How could you do this to me,": and Meow meaning "No, I am not handing over that bit of chicken I found in the trash."
We can speak clearly and simply.They can't.
They obfuscate and muddle, just like their tiny minds. And the way they babble endlessly. Is it worth studying their vocalisations?  I have done so and I conclude there are only a few words that it is really necessary for a cat to understand. These, in order of importance, are: "vet," "cattery," "sitter," "tin," "food," "bag," "fridge," "chicken," trash," "pill," "door," "dog."  For most of these, except the food ones, you run under the bed.
What is a cat to do with the rest of the noises? Tune most of them out, I think. It's the only way to save your sanity. And I enjoy it when they call "George." I look at them carefully in a disdainful way and saunter off.
Try it, Fluffy. It's a good game.
Purrs and rubs
Just added a photo of me rolling in the dust. Not such a gorgeous tummy, I fear.


  1. You missed the most important word of all.. DINNER! XOXO Lucy
    PS - I don't get humans either!

  2. Ear plugs work well. I can attest to that. I use 'em all the time with my peeps.


  3. I tend to think your "roll" is cutest than your "role"!
    Gorgeous belly - Glorious roll :-)

  4. My male human started meowing few months ago - guess he thinks "he speaks" my language
    How silly!

  5. Fluffy, I think you look gorgeous "up-side down".
    Love it!

  6. Fluffy, I teach Spanish - less complicated than English :-) Tell your humans.
    When I meow my humans understand immediately, no confusion.
    They meow in Spanish too!


Help for cats whose humans show behaviour problems.

This blog is devoted to the study of human behaviour. We cats, who live with this sometimes unpredictable and always feeble minded species, can benefit from seeing their behaviour in its proper scientific context. The study of feline dilemmas, training problems, and difficulties with humans, can only benefit all of us. All of us train our humans - to buy the right food, for instance, but many of us do not have knowledge of how to improve our training methods. The human species is obviously not as intelligent as the cat, but nevertheless can learn quite a lot - if properly managed. Topics of interest include the use of claw and order, purring as a human reward, rubbing your human up the right way, when to bite, spraying as a method of making our wishes known, ignoring the human, human harassment, human inattention and sheer human stupidity. I welcome your questions. Photos can be sent via my secretary's website, This blog has been chosen as one of the top 50 feline blogs by Online