Dialect dangerous to cats

How did this happen?

According to this site, it was a dialect problem:

Here is Mark’s story about this photo: “My sister-in law is from Oklahoma and has a slight accent. When she lived in the south she’d take her cats to the groomers to have what is called a Line Cut, which is when all of the fur hanging down below the cat’s tummy is taken off (because it gets matted or snarled).

“When she moved to Chicago, the fur on one of the cats got all tangled up during the move so she took it in for a line cut. She was quite surprised when she heard the price ($80) as it was twice as much as it was down south. She confirmed with the groomer that he understood what a line cut was and he said “yes, I know what a LION cut is.” It seems her accent came out sounding like LION not LINE and this is how her cat was returned to her.

“She cried for a week…but not as much as the cat. It was November in Chicago and the cat needed all the fur it had.”

Well, it’s a good story. (Hat tip to Ann Burlingham.)

7 Responses to “Dialect dangerous to cats”

  1. thnidu Says:

    A dialect DIFFERENCE problem, nicht wahr? Not a problem of his d. or of her d., but of an unrecognized difference.

  2. Kathryn Says:

    Cats are naked under their fur!

    Schadenfreude rears again: the angry expression makes it so much funnier. Poor little plushie.

  3. Ron Butters Says:

    In the 1970s I collected data in North Carolina and “lion” versus “line” was one of the test pairs. Subjects generally maintained that they pronounced (and could hear) a difference, but in fact they were often (to my ear) functional homophones.

  4. arnoldzwicky Says:

    And now from John McChesney-Young on ADS-L:

    Sheep can be similarly endangered.

    The mother-in-law of a friend of mine was from Kentucky (“KIN-tucky,” as she reportedly pronounced it) and at the beginning of their acquaintance they were discussing a recipe and came to an ingredient that puzzled my friend: “lamb juice.”

    My friend asked tentatively, “Lamb juice? You mean … like, baby sheep?”

    “No! No! Lamb juice! Lamb juice! Like lemons and lambs!”

  5. L-U-R-V-E, Love (full episode) | A Way with Words Says:

    […] Martha and Grant share a couple of favorite online sources for reading about language: Michael Quinion’s World Wide Words newsletter and Arnold Zwicky’s blog. Be sure to check out Zwicky’s post, “Dialect dangerous to cats” for a look at The Lion Cut. […]

  6. Venita Says:

    Snopes says the explanatory text is probably nothing more than someone’s humorous commentary: http://www.snopes.com/photos/animals/lioncut.asp

    • arnoldzwicky Says:

      To Venita: in my defense, I said “It’s a good story”, not accepting the source as it stood. I was suspicious of it, but I wasn’t up to trying to track down the original.

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