When we launched Forest Hills Connection in 2012, one of our early contributors was Emmy Elfin. Emmy has emerged from her retirement – still quite opinionated for someone of the canine persuasion.
Hello, it’s Emmy again. I am coming out of retirement because of my concern for the spoken language which I think has been invented to confuse animal companions, especially dogs who communicate with their owners every day to make life comfortable for both of them.
Although I do not speak, I am often bewildered by the numerous references to dogs in both the written and oral language. For example, what truly puzzles me is the expression, “work like a dog.” I personally have never seen a working dog in my neighborhood with the exception of guide dogs.
Nearly all the dogs in my acquaintance spend most of their time sleeping. Those people who are working at home during the pandemic have become aware of this as they labor at their computers with a dog sound asleep at their side. How then can this human correctly say, “I worked like a dog today?” It doesn’t make sense. Yet when the person says, “I am dog tired,” is that more descriptive? Only if one believes the dog is truly tired or just sleeping because he/she has nothing else to do.
When a person reads a book described as dog-eared, what exactly does that mean? The pages are turned down like my ears? But many dogs have upright ears.
I have heard my best friend say, upon seeing a friend, “I haven’t seen you in a dog’s age.” I am now more than 15 years old and I know that’s not true.
What about a husband being in the doghouse for some misdemeanor. What does a doghouse have to do with his failure to unload the dishwasher?
And I have heard a debate like the last presidential one described as a dog fight. Not sure about that or the expression “dog eat dog.” And as for doggone, I give up entirely.
What all this amounts to is a lack of respect for language which bothers me. How am I supposed to obey when there is so little clarity? I do know how to sit and come (if I feel like it) so perhaps I should stick to understanding one-syllable commands and forget both my literary and literate concerns.
Please don’t respond to this essay since I am sleeping most of the time and don’t have the energy to answer.