Fifty Percent Canine/ Fifty Percent Feline

In the early chapters of Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages, Guy Deutscher contrasts the difficulty children have obtaining the names for colors with their powerful pattern recognition algorithms . . . they may have trouble discerning the difference between blue and green but they never mix up a car and a boat, or a dog and a cat; this makes me recall a particular example from our adventures in Syria, we were staying in a hotel at the foot of the largest, most impregnable, and best preserved crusader castle in the world, the Krak des Chevaliers, and, once darkness fell, a weird, keening screaming began echoing in the hills-- it sounded like hordes of frightened children-- and when we asked one of the hotel employees what produced the wails, he said, "the chucker . . . it is half dog and . . . . . . . half cat," and though I loved imagining these cryptic and impossible creatures, we later learned they were jackals.

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