It may be too dark to read there (see point 3), but it appears that inside of a dog there's more grasp of human words than was formerly thought. Read about Rico, a nine-and-a half-year-old border collie:
Rico gradually increased his vocabulary to about 200 words that he could match to objects.This prompts a couple of disparate thoughts inside of a me. One is: I wonder how many words my cat Meems knows. I once tried teaching her the alphabet, but only got as far as D. The other thought is that ten years ago I wrote a book about Richard Rorty in which, taking issue with Rorty's views about language - as a kind of inescapable grid through which (and only through which) we perceive the world - I posed the question* how we could ever learn a language in the first place if there weren't also extra-linguistic modes of perception and extra-linguistic distinctions. How could we discriminate the sounds, or shapes, through which we come to possess language if we have, and there are, no distinctions except via language? I believe Rico the border Collie would support me in asking this question. Meems certainly does. But I've not yet seen or heard anyone trying to answer it. And I've been looking and listening with rather more than 200 words at my disposal. Sheesh, a person can start to get... what was that word again?... oh yes, impatient.
[The researchers] hope they can use this experiment to further probe how the brain learns to understand words. Rico's powers of comprehension, they say, show that the processes the brain uses to discern words are not the same as those used to produce speech. Says Fischer: "You don't have to be able to talk to understand a lot."
* See pp. 118-20.