1535: Words for Pets

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Words for Pets
Seventh year: Perfectly coherent words, but in the pet's language, not mine.
Title text: Seventh year: Perfectly coherent words, but in the pet's language, not mine.

Explanation[edit]

The comic shows four similar Euler diagrams, one for each of the first four years of living with a pet. The diagrams depict sets of words which have varying efficacy in actually identifying the pet, and each one shows how the words used by Randall to refer to his pet change year by year and becoming less and less specific as time goes on.

In the first year it is dominated by the actual name of the pet or words closely related. For example, a dog named Lassie might be called either "Lassie", "dog", "collie" or "boy/girl".

Moving on to the second year, these related words like "dog" and "collie" get more abundant while the actual name is seldom used. Phrases such as "good dog" or "here, boy" are likely common. Giving a dog the name "Dog" is so common that there is a trope about that.

In the third year, the pet's name is no longer used at all and the owner probably uses simple phrases like "come" or "come here" to call the pet, omitting the name.

The fourth year entails the use of just any sound, not coherent words. This may be referring to something like baby talk or attempted mimicry of the pet's vocalizations.

This development can be attributed to the fact that some animals don't listen to their own name but rather react to the sound of the voice of their owner. It could also refer to the growing bond between owner and the pet, as well as the effect described in 231: Cat Proximity.

The title text suggests that the inevitable result of this continuing pattern is that by the seventh year, Randall will be communicating with the pet in its own language. This might refer to the tendency of some pet owners to mimic or imitate their pets' vocalizations, as if speaking to them. Alternatively, this could be interpreted as a joke that pets don't have proper language and the owner has degenerated to a lack of language themselves as time goes on.

The title text and the caption makes it a little difficult to be certain if the comic refers to when you talk about your pet to other people ("my dog is always hungry") or when you call at it, which would be the only time it would make sense to use coherent words in the animals own language - "Woof" = come here.

Transcript[edit]

[Caption above the frame:]
Words I use to refer to a pet over the years I live with it:
[Inside the box are four diagrams. Each diagram contains three elliptical sections containing the previous one, each section is drawn identical from diagram to diagram and they are labeled the same way from diagram to diagram. A fourth section (a red ellipse) moves from diagram to diagram and its label changes from diagram to diagram.]
[The red section of the first diagram mainly overlaps the innermost section, but about a third of it is in the second section. The labels are written above the three white sections and then inside the red section. The labels from inside and out and last the label of the red section:]
The pet's name
Words related to the pet
Coherent words of any kind
First year
[The red section of the second diagram mainly overlaps the right part of the second section, but it just touches both the first and the third section. The labels are written above the three white sections and then inside the red section. The labels from inside and out and last the label of the red section:]
The pet's name
Words related to the pet
Coherent words of any kind
Second year
[The red section of the third diagram mainly overlaps the right part of the third section, but about a third of it is inside the second section and a small part is outside of the third section. The labels are written above the three white sections and then inside the red section. The labels from inside and out and last the label of the red section:]
The pet's name
Words related to the pet
Coherent words of any kind
Third year
[The red section of the fourth diagram is completely outside the third section and has to be so far to the right, that the other sections has been moved from the center of the frame to the left. The labels are written above the three white sections and then inside the red section. The labels from inside and out and last the label of the red section:]
The pet's name
Words related to the pet
Coherent words of any kind
Fourth year onward


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Discussion

I skipped the first step by naming my cat "Cat". On the plus side, even in the third year I was still mostly calling her by her name. --108.162.254.134 08:06, 8 June 2015 (UTC)

My cat is also named "Cat". Then again, I call all cats "Cat". 108.162.210.138 19:00, 8 June 2015 (UTC)

Not sure this is relevant enough to include, but there's a trope about that 188.114.111.224 11:39, 8 June 2015 (UTC)

I interpreted this slightly differently. In the first year, the pet is fresh and new, and you put the effort in to call it by its name. As time goes on, you get sloppier about it. In addition, I believe he missed a ring from it: Expletives. Within a year of having a new cat, I was calling it more by expletives than its name. Drmouse (talk) 14:24, 8 June 2015 (UTC)

I thought expletives were deliberately implied, so I'm very surprised they are not mentioned in the explanation. 198.41.239.231 23:50, 8 June 2015 (UTC)

I disagree with the explanation. The comic is about words used to refer to the pet, i.e. to name the pet when talking to someone else, not to talk to the pet. For instance "I forgot to feed Lassie" might later become "I forgot to feed the dog", then "I forgot to feed the damn thing" or whatever. Am I the only one to understand "refer" like this? Zetfr 16:53, 8 June 2015 (UTC)

In my household at least, we use the animal's species as its name. For example, instead of "Have you fed Lassie?", we may say " Have you fed Dog?". I think is what Randall is implying. 141.101.98.29 17:00, 8 June 2015 (UTC)
Since he begins to refer to the animal in the animals language, I would say that only makes sense if he talks to the animal. However the way the caption is phrased it could be understood the way he talks about the animal. So I think it is impossible to say that one explanation is correct and the other is wrong. Maybe that should be mentioned in explain. --Kynde (talk) 18:14, 8 June 2015 (UTC)
Agreed. 188.114.97.151 23:24, 28 December 2015 (UTC)

I got a completely different idea to this, the relationship is one of friendship, not parentage, so the moving from name to associated to other words to sounds would be more like Hey Lassie -> Hey Dog -> Hey Fatso -> Ugh, Oi. This shows more the common friendship trope of insulting one another in a humorous way, which seems far more likely than transitioning into some kind of hybrid language for all bar the most "maternal" of owners. Hackerjack (talk) 22:40, 8 June 2015 (UTC)

I agree here. With our cat it was Hi Blaser -> Hi Cat -> You little **** -> Oi, you -> "Maw?" Drmouse (talk) 09:08, 9 June 2015 (UTC)

The "You little ****" is something I can definitely attest to. A friend of mine keeps calling his cats assholes and similar words, so often that I have a hard time remembering their actual names. "come here" isn't how one "refers to" a pet, it's how one might call a pet, which isn't what the comic is about at all... Maplestrip (talk) 09:15, 9 June 2015 (UTC)

I call my dog "plague" (makes more sense in our dialect of Portuguese). 188.114.97.151 23:24, 28 December 2015 (UTC)

I wouldn't say Randall is restricting this comic to either of the two major possibilities: speaking to the pet, or speaking about the pet. It could well be a mixture of both. We have a cat whose name is "Pwca" (Welsh spelling, same as "Pooka" as in the Jimmy Stewart movie "Harvey") but the name varies between "Pwca" and "Picklebean" and just "Bean" right along with "silly kitty" and "funny girl" and other descriptive words. She has a typical little short chirp that she uses to get our attention or to complain about something, and we often chirp back to her, so that would be "the pet's own language." My daughter's cat "Minnie" is "Minners" or "Minimum" or "Min-Min" or again, descriptive terms. You could certainly argue that some of those words are borderline incoherent. In most cases, they can be used while speaking either /to/ the pet, or /of/ the pet to a third party (or sometimes to the universe at large.) Note that the phrase "pet name" has a double meaning, with 'pet' either a noun or an adjective, and in the latter case usually not actually referring to a pet.Taibhse (talk) 00:43, 10 June 2015 (UTC)

Randall talks to cats: 231 108.162.219.83 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I thought it is Vienn diagram not Euler diagram 108.162.254.47 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I call my kitty "foofy butt," "foofbutt," "fluffbutt," "plushbutt," "puffbutt," "squishy," [gibberish cooing], "meow meow," "hairy baby" (BH6 is my favorite animated movie), identical meows to his, and sometimes, occasionally, his actual name Mitu. Or Mittu My mom spells it differently than me. For the longest time, autocorrect autocorrected his name to MIT. xD Now all I can picture is me stroking the dome of one of the best schools in the entire world like it's a kitty. KITTY.

I miss him. He has lung cancer, and is at home, and I'm away at college. My poor little foofehbutt :c International Space Station (talk) 05:20, 7 October 2015 (UTC)

If you just listened to what my mother called her cats throughout the day you'd think their names were "Trouble" "You Ratbag" and "Get down off that!" -Pennpenn 108.162.250.162 01:22, 15 January 2016 (UTC)

By the time my parents' dog died her name had expanded from 'Lucy' to 'Lucius Germanicus P. Codwagon the Great' and my dad would talk about how she got lost up in the frozen spruce country and saw the Wendigo. To be fair she was like 14 by that point, so it's possible that we had reached past talking to her in her language to achieve complete screaming psychosis. She seemed to enjoy being told spooky stories about herself, though, so that was okay. 162.158.59.142 04:44, 7 August 2017 (UTC)

Maybe it's just me, but I interpreted it as referring to the gradual transition where the pets name is gradually morphed into something else and/or it's given a nickname, which also eventually morphs. I once had a cat named "Smoky", which became "Swiss Mocha", and eventually "Bin-Bin" (I forget how exactly". My dog "Rasta" eventually became "Googer" or "Biggur" (I think that was "Good girl" and "Big girl" originally; "Biggoogurl" was also used sometimes). "Pupplet" and "Dogalog" also saw use. Her actual name is reserved for when she is bad or I'm trying to get her attention when she's running around outside. 172.68.54.22 06:52, 7 January 2018 (UTC)