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Chris (L) & VIcky (R), Czech dog.

My favourite story of the day: how staff at an animal home thought a dog was deaf until they discovered it had come from a Polish household and therefore only responded to commands in Polish. The story brings back fond memories of Prague last summer, when Chris baby-sat   Vicky the lesbian German Shepherd for a day (pictured left). Vicky’s owner handed over the dog to Chris together with a slip of paper with Czech dog commands on. Despite my background as a linguist, it hadn’t occurred to me that they’d need it. Strange that some humans are treated with less compassion – think of the dancers all over the world who have commands barked at them in French.

And while we’re on the subject, if you need to say ‘Go away bird’ or ‘Come here, cow’, then this list of multilingual animal commands will be invaluable.

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Jonathan Still, ballet pianist