# Thread: the triplet of horse, whale and sea

1. ## the triplet of horse, whale and sea

Hi,

Which two of the three (horse, whale and sea) are most closely related?
Specifically, do you put together the horse and the whale, or the whale and the sea?

Thank you in advance
Seiichi MYOGA

Do not read this before you give your answer. Suppose that you are asked, "Which
two of the three (panda, monkey and banana) do you think are most closely related?" According to R. E. Nisbett's The Geography of Thought, if you're a Westerner, chances are that you think the panda and the monkey belong together (because the same classification term can be applied to both ["animal"]). But if you're an Easterner, you're more likely to say that the monkey and the banana go together (based on thematic relationships [Monkeys eat bananas.]) I'm wondering if the same is true of the triplet above.

2. ## Re: the triplet of horse, whale and sea

I would simply point out that the question "are most alike" is not the same as "the most closely related."

3. ## Re: the triplet of horse, whale and sea

As your question was "Which two of the three (horse, whale and sea) are most closely related?" then the answer for me has to be horse a and whale.

If you had phrased the question as "which two of these three do you associate together most closely", then I might well have come up with whale and sea

4. ## Re: the triplet of horse, whale and sea

Originally Posted by 5jj
As your question was "Which two of the three (horse, whale and sea) are most closely related?" then the answer for me has to be horse a and whale.

If you had phrased the question as "which two of these three do you associate together most closely", then I might well have come up with whale and sea
OALD defines related as connected with sth/sb in some way assuming, IMO, it's up to the person to decide which way they are related in. Probably, this 'some' makes it possible to come up with different answers depending on the Westerner/Easterner type or whatever.

True, that is the first meaning mentioned in OALD, the second is exactly about belonging to one group, which doesn't make any difference in terms of the survey, IMO, because again it's up to the person to decide what groups he/she is talking about. Still, my interest is more about the language issues - what's the difference between 'related' and 'associated' in this case? If the question is allowed in this thread.

5. ## Re: the triplet of horse, whale and sea

The author did use the word "related" like this:
Li-jun Ji, Zhiyong Zhang, and I obtained similar results comparing college students from the U.S with students from mainland China and Taiwan, using words instead of pictures. We presented participants with sets of three words (e.g., panda, monkey, banana) and asked them to indicate which two of the three were most related. The American participants showed a marked preference for grouping on the basis of common category membership: Panda and monkey fit into the animal category. The Chinese participants showed a preference for grouping on the basis of thematic relationships (e.g., monkey and banana) and justified their answers in terms of relationships: Monkeys eat bananas.

If the natural way of organizing the world for Westerners is to do so in terms of categories and the rules that define them then we might expect that Westerners’ perceptions of similarity between objects would be heavily influenced by the degree to which the objects can be categorized by applying a set of rules. But if categories are less salient to East Asians, then we might expect that their perceptions of similarity would be based more on the family resemblance among objects.
(R. E. Nisbett, The Geography of Thought)

So, let's move back to my question. Which two of the triplet do you put together?
Seiichi MYOGA

6. ## Re: the triplet of horse, whale and sea

It's impossible to answer that now. You won't get a natural reaction, but a considered reaction, taking this discussion into account.

7. ## Re: the triplet of horse, whale and sea

Originally Posted by Barb_D
It's impossible to answer that now. You won't get a natural reaction, but a considered reaction, taking this discussion into account.
OK, let's not count your vote this time.
And allow me to ask this if you don't mind. Honestly, which pair comes foremost to your mind?

Natural or considered, I think your reply will be of great help to some (if not all).
Seiichi MYOGA

8. ## Re: the triplet of horse, whale and sea

Coincidentally, I was tested on this by my Japanese wife this afternoon, but with a chicken, grass and a cow- it must be doing the rounds of the internet. I gave cow and grass as my answer- I was associating the animal and its food. Maybe I've been living in Asia for too long.

9. ## Re: the triplet of horse, whale and sea

I bet a seahorse would see things differently

b

10. ## Re: the triplet of horse, whale and sea

Originally Posted by Tdol
Coincidentally, I was tested on this by my Japanese wife this afternoon, but with a chicken, grass and a cow- it must be doing the rounds of the internet.
The source may be this:
Take a look at the three objects pictured in the illustration on page 141 (There you’ll see the pictures of a chicken, a cow, and grass). If you were to place two objects together, which would they be? Why do those seem to be the ones that belong together?

If you’re a Westerner, odds are you think the chicken and the cow belong together. Developmental psychologist Lian-hwang Chiu showed triplets like that in the illustration to American and Chinese children. Chiu found that the American children preferred to group objects because they belonged to the “taxonomic”category, that is, the same classification term could be applied to both (“adults,”“tools.”). Chinese children preferred to group objects on the basis of relationships. They would be more likely to say the cow and the grass in the illustration go together because “the cow eats the grass.”
(R. E. Nisbett, The Geography of Thought)

Actually, my real interest lies in whether we can use "In a way, a whale is a fish." to mean "A whale is to a certain extent a fish." (It is a known fact that it takes more time for speakers of English to decide that the sentence "A whale is a fish" is wrong than the sentence "A horse is a fish." is wrong. In other words, they think of the similarity between whale and fish as greater than that between horse and fish, although the rules they are applying to the category of fish here are not biology-based/primary ones but empirical/secondary ones: the shape, the habitat and the like.)
If speakers of Enlgish prefer to group the whale and the horse based on the idea of category, we will better understand exactly what the category is like for English-speaking people if not Westerners in general (not always clear-cut but sometimes gradable).
Seiichi MYOGA

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