Study Guide

A Dog's Purpose Language and Communication

By W. Bruce Cameron

Language and Communication

Woof woof yip bark growl ruff ruff.

Translation: In fiction, many dogs end up talking like humans, either conveying their thoughts in little bubbles, like Snoopy, or in voiceover, like the adventurous animals in Homeward Bound. But in A Dog's Purpose, the dog acts like a normal dog. He doesn't talk to humans or to other animals. But even though the dog cannot speak in English syllables, he does have a rich inner monologue with which he narrates the story.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. What is the dog's primary method of communication? Does he always get his point across to humans and other animals?
  2. How does the dog communicate with animals compared to how he communicates with humans? Is the dog more effective at communicating with other animals than he is at communicating with humans? Less effective? About the same? Why?
  3. When is the dog frustrated in his communication with humans? When does he have trouble understanding them, and vice-versa?

Chew on This

Despite his rich narrative, the dog only knows a few choice words of English, like "good dog," "bad dog," and his different names. Instead, his primary method of understanding humans is through sensing their emotions and attempting to respond appropriately.

The longer the dog lives, the more he understands how humans communicate with one another. He uses this knowledge to bring Hannah and Ethan together.

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