The man who taught a dog to talk

The man who taught a dog to talk

Alexander Graham Bell is remembered mostly for inventing the telephone. But did you know he once taught a dog to talk?

Screen+Shot+2015-10-23+at+8.36.44+AMBell, born in Scotland, moved to North America in his early 20s, living most of his life in out-of-the-way Baddeck, Nova Scotia. Today, the Alexander Graham Bell Museum there honors the inventor, his inventions and his life. Among his more interesting experiments, which came before he came to Canada, was teaching a dog to talk. He did it. Sort of. . .Here is what I learned on my visit to the museum. In Bell’s words:

“By the application of suitable doses of food material the dog was. . . taught to sit up on his hind legs and growl continuously while I manipulated his mouth, and stop growling when I took my hands away. . .

“The dog’s repertoire. . . consisted of the vowels ‘ah’ and ‘oo,’ and the syllables ‘ma’ and ‘ga.’ We then proceeded to manufacture words and sentences composed of these elements, and the dog’s final linguistic accomplishment consisted of ‘Aw-ah-oo-gamama,’ which, by the exercise of a little imagination, readily passed for ‘How are you, Grandmama?'”

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