Quote Originally Posted by Seiichi MYOGA View Post

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.
Before reading the discussion, my reactions were:
Horse and Whale

both 5 letter, monosyllabic words with long, central vowel
both aspirated (in some dialects)
both mammals
I believe many whales live in herds /seek the companionship of their kind, as often do horses
both “noble exemplars” to many humans
X - do not share the same environment – unless you include the so-called ‘sea-horse’

Whale and Sea

both monosyllables with long vowel
one lives in the other

X one a living being but the other not.

Sea and Horse

both monosyllables with long vowel
sea-horses live in the sea – but normal, ‘real’ horses have no close connection with the sea
breaking waves on the sea are called ‘white horses’ in English
X one a living being but the other not.

Overall, then, horse and whale are closest. However this is far from the 'free association' that you now seem to be looking for; and I would probably have said "whale and sea" as a first association since the two are directly associated. Dunno if this helps.