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His name is Coco and his prowess is followed by more than 40,000 people on social networks. Because this dog has a particularity, he is able to communicate with his owner, a doctoral student from the University of Burgundy who works on the language skills of animals.
Coco is a “talking” border collie. 11 months old, he knows how to use our language to express his needs, his desires, thanks to a sound carpet developed by his mistress, a doctoral student in language sciences at the University of Burgundy, in Dijon. Meiyun Xu is working on her thesis on the language skills of animals. “So far, he has learned thirty-four words, and the most used are basic words, such as going out, eating, playing or caress.“, explains the young woman who created a system of push buttons, each associated with a specific word. To date, Coco manages to associate up to four words in order to be understood.
Designate a toy, claim an activity and even express an emotion. According to scientists who have been working on the subject for more than a decade, some dogs could assimilate up to a thousand words. Enough to allow their master to interact more easily and better understand them. “Basically, they already have language skills, they know how to express themselves in their own way, but their “words”, that is to say their gestures, their gaze, remain very limited.“, explains Meiyun Xu.
After several months of learning and testing, Meiyun is certain: Coco can talk. But she will now have to prove it thanks to a real experimental protocol. She will analyze her success rate but also her thinking time. In the meantime, the exploits of Coco the talking dog are making a splash on social networks. They are more than 40,000 to follow his adventures.
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