"Worlds Smartest Dog" Knows 1,200 Words, Understands Syntax and can Make Inferences
Chaser has been able to learn more human language than any other non-primate—and, in fact, more than almost any primate. Chaser knows upwards of 1,200 words. Not just nouns, but also verbs and modifiers like adjectives and prepositions…
Chaser has also been proven to retain the names of objects after learning them, even if she hasn’t seen them in years…
What really excites [Pilley] is the idea of teaching Chaser other elements of language: how words interact, how one word can modify another, and how words can signify more than one thing.
Chaser is the first known dog to understand the concept of categories in human speech. If you tell her to “fetch ball,” and have set aside a ball, even if she’s never seen that specific ball before she’ll understand that the word “ball,” for her, refers to something round and bouncy. And fetch it.
Branching off from that is Chaser’s ability to make inferences. Say you set out three objects for her: one is a Fuzzy, one is a Bamboozel, and one is a New Balance sneaker. Chaser knows the first two objects, knows them by name, but has never seen that sneaker before. But tell her to “fetch New Balance,” and she’ll walk over to the three objects, puzzled, and analyze them for a second. She’ll walk among them, look at them carefully, and then gently grab the sneaker and bring it back to you—because she has figured out that she has to fetch something and this weird object is the only thing that could possibly match up with that weird sound you told her to fetch.
(via I Met The World’s Smartest Dog | Popular Science)