"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone,"it means just what I choose it to mean --- neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice,"whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master--- that's all."
You used the word; I had an immediate picture what he was doing.
What I find very interesting is that the words are very similar in different languages - German wau-wau, French oua-oua, English woof-woof) - but the animals got totally different namens - Hund, chien, dog.
Edit: just found that this is called "cross-linguistic onomatopoeias".
It's still not clear precisely how the human brain does all this, Bestelmeyer says. But, oddly enough, people who study birds think they may have some clues. That's because songbirds, like people, learn to vocalize early in life and develop regional accents. So research on bird brains could help explain what's going on in the human brain, says Jon Prather from the University of Wyoming.
Prather has studied the brains of swamp sparrows from Pennsylvania and New York, whose calls have subtle differences that are a lot like accents.
"We studied a region of the bird brain that is involved in not only how they sing their songs but how they perceive differences in their songs," he says. And that research found individual brain cells that would respond to one accent -- but not another.
So Prather and researchers from Duke University compared songbirds from Pennsylvania with songbirds from New York. They found specific brain cells in the Pennsylvania birds that responded to songs sung in their own accent, but they would stop firing when exposed to a New York accent.
"It would effectively shut down. It would not respond at all," he says.
All of which suggests that that songbirds from Pennsylvania and New York recognize each other's speech differences much the way human residents do, Prather says. And in nature, he adds, members of one group tend to be wary of members of another.