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Re: Cat phonemes

Date:Wednesday, November 28, 2007, 15:14
> [] On Behalf Of Lars Finsen
> This thread caused me to analyse the speech of my house-friend a > little, an 8 kg male - very handsome and cuddly, but you wouldn't
> want to meet him in a dark alley. > > I found that he has the famous 4 cat phonemes, /m/, /i/, /a/ and
> and in addition he uses an /e/ quite a bit, and the /u/ and the
> can open up to /o/ and /w/ respectively, but I suspect these are
> allophones. So far I haven't heard any /N/, but maybe cats have > dialects, and/or large variations in their vocal organs.
I always though /m/ seemed wrong since the sound is not really labial. The famous "meow" of a cat sounds more like [Njao] or [Njau] to me.
> I think the purr may be phonemic too. At least it seems he means > something entirely different when he says it with a purr than > when he says the same thing without it.
But the purr isn't a phoneme. It's an indicator of the cat's mood. Just as we can change tone in English to show sarcasm, urgency, or make a declarative into an interrogative. The purr is the cat's way of expressing happiness and contentment.
> However he does not rely on speech very much. Rather he prefers > telepathy, based on his experience that "daddy always knows what I
> need." Unfortunately, his daddy isn't very susceptible to that
> of communication.
My cats all have their little ways of communicating, but they are mostly through gestures. Each one's code is different but for example. * Walk across the desk, jump on my lap, then onto the floor and stop for a couple seconds = follow me to the door because I want out. * Walk aross desk, make rising two-tone sound, climb on lap= "pet me" which is followed by a purring and a quick massage before curling up on my lap. * Biting my face = I'm really happy. * The whole gang following me around everywhere = our bowl is empty.
> Technically I think the purr is similar to the vibrantness that
> be heard in many people's voices.
It's laryngeal trill. I'm still trying to find a good symbol for it.