A dog bleated

ayed

Senior Member
Arabic(Saudi)
Hello, folks.

A non-English-native of mine wrote in a short story of his:

When the man passed by a house, he heard a dog bleated.
I told him that the verb "bleat" is congruent to "do";hence, it is weird to hear a dog bleating :). he inquired why and I told him that the semantic properties/relations are congruent between the noun and the verb.

Question:
What would come to your mind and how would be interpreted when you read or hear the above sentence?

Thanks a lot.
 
  • DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Question:
    What would come to your mind and how would be interpreted when you read or hear the above sentence?
    It would suggest to me that he heard the dog make a noise or a sound like a sheep. :confused:

    I think "whine" or possibly "whimper" would have been a better choice of verb.
     

    ayed

    Senior Member
    Arabic(Saudi)
    It would suggest to me that he heard the dog make a noise or a sound like a sheep. :confused:

    I think "whine" or possibly "whimper" would have been a better choice of verb.
    As ever, a quick response!.

    I very much thank you, DonnyB. My hat is off to you :)
     

    Language Hound

    Senior Member
    American English
    When I read the thread title, I thought that the writer had meant to write:
    A dog barked or
    A goat bleated or
    A lamb bleated or
    A sheep bleated.

    Apparently, according to the dictionary, a calf also bleats:
    to utter the cry of a sheep, goat, or calf or a sound resembling such a cry.
    I'm afraid I have no idea what you mean by your two statements:
    the verb "bleat" is congruent to "do"
    the semantic properties/relations are congruent between the noun and the verb.
     

    Language Hound

    Senior Member
    American English
    Thank you for clarifying that.
    However, I still do not understand what you mean by "congruent" in those two statements.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I despair of this world in which all horses neigh and whinny, and all cats miaow.

    If a dog bleats then that would be remarkable, but not linguistically absurd.

    As Velisarius suggests, maybe it is a dog in sheep's clothing.

    The short stories of Saki are full of cats which speak, and there's a Mulliner story in which a gorilla says something. Would people really say that such things break some important convention of language? They seem to me to be using an entirely fair comic device.
     

    ayed

    Senior Member
    Arabic(Saudi)
    I despair of this world in which all horses neigh and whinny, and all cats miaow.

    If a dog bleats then that would be remarkable, but not linguistically absurd.

    As Velisarius suggests, maybe it is a dog in sheep's clothing.

    The short stories of Saki are full of cats which speak, and there's a Mulliner story in which a gorilla says something. Would people really say that such things break some important convention of language? They seem to me to be using an entirely fair comic device.
    Thanks all/
    Thomas, this style or feature is commonly employed in such a folktale, as you do know:)
     

    truepurple

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I don't get what you guys are saying about congruent (even though I looked it up to affirm its meaning) but bleat is a onomatopoeia for a particular sound sheep, goats. calves etc make, and dogs don't. Nothing grammatically wrong with the sentence. It's just not a sound a dog would make, or at least not one I would just believe you at face value at, I would require proof.
     

    ayed

    Senior Member
    Arabic(Saudi)
    Thanks a lot truepurple and Loob for the definition of that word . i actually meant the opposite :
    that verb "bleat" is discordant with/it doesn't agree with the semantic features of a dog.
     

    truepurple

    Senior Member
    English-US
    This is not a language issue, it's a extraordinary claim issue. It would like having the dog say "Hello" as he walked past the house. Not going to be believed without hard proof if it's real life, perfectly fine for a story, and nothing wrong with the grammar.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    When the man passed by a house, he heard a dog bleated.
    The sentence is grammatically wrong: it should be "When the man passed by a house, he heard a dog bleated bleat." or "When the man passed by a house, he heard a dog bleated."
     

    truepurple

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Ah, sorry, so much focus on "congruent" thing that I missed the tense problem, well that was what was asked about.
     

    Delvo

    Senior Member
    American English
    I suspect that the sound the writer had in mind was what we call "baying". It's a long, extended sound dogs make sometimes, like howling, but lower in pitch, like barking. The sound is normally associated with large breeds, especially those used in tracking & hunting (hounds). As a result, the verb tends to be used for situations in which somebody is being pursued, and the sound of the dogs is a reminder that he can't ever relax and the pursuers are getting closer. For example, a song about a man running from the police into a wild area describes that area as "where a man can hide and never be found, and have no fear of the baying hound".

    But the best conjugation for your sentence would be "...heard a dog baying".
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    But I wonder how this person passing by the house knew it was a dog bleating. If they heard a bleating, it would suggest that the animal inside was a sheep or goat. (On a personal note I have on occasion seen livestock kept inside houses, and a young lamb once wandered into my neighbour's house while he was watching television.)

    I'm beginning to have a tiny suspicion that the person who wrote this may possibly have meant to write "barking".
     

    Language Hound

    Senior Member
    American English
    I think the point is that the dog is doing something unusual...
    Short of being mind readers, I don't think we're in a position to know what the point is. :)
    We only have this one sentence from the short story, and the OP did not write it.
    Instead, he tells us it was written by a non-native speaker of English.
    So, the person may well have chosen the wrong English verb for the sound a dog makes.
    On the other hand, the author may have purposely chosen the verb "to bleat."
    We really have no way of knowing.

    As for the form of the verb (whatever the verb may be--let's use "to bark" for the following examples),
    that really depends on the intended meaning: Did the dog bark when the man passed by the house or
    was he already barking?

    1. When the man passed by a house, he heard a dog bark.
    2. When the man passed by a house, he heard a dog barking.


    I personally would prefer "When the man passed by a house, a dog barked" for sentence #1.
     
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