You don’t need to grow up on a farm to know that cows say “moo” or that pigs oink. And everyone agrees that dogs go “bow wow” and that cats meow, right? Well, not quite.
Children from Japan report that their cats say “nyah,”* while chickens go “kokekkoko” and ducks, “ga ga.”
French farmers insist that their cows say “muuu.” The vowel sound is sort of like the u in push. Not to be outdone, French ducks say “kwa kwa” (with the a as in cat), French pigs say “groan groan,” and French roosters proudly crow “cocoreeco.” Cows in India apparently wander around saying “moe.”
If you were a farmer in Spain, your rooster would wake you up, crowing “keekeereekee” and your dog would go “wow wow!” whenever a stranger came near.
If you took the same dog to Italy, the Italians would tell you that it was really saying “boo boo.”
Dogs in Russia, on the other hand, bark “gof gof.” In China they bark “wang wang” and in Germany, “vow vow.” And speaking of Germany, frogs and ducks there speak the same language. They both say “kwock kwock.”
Of course, the actual sounds these animals make are the same all around the world, but the sounds are imitated differently in different languages.
So if someone tells you that his dog barks “hov hov,” don’t panic. Just realize that he’s probably from Turkey.
And the next time you’re singing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” just think of what it would sound like to sing it with children from other parts of the world. It might go something like this:
“Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O!
With a ‘nyah nyah’ here and a ‘wang wang’ there,
Here a ‘wow,’ there a ‘moe,’ everywhere a ‘boo boo.’
Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O!”