Posts Tagged ‘animal sounds’

Around the world, new parents are busy perfecting their animal noises.  These animals will become some of the main characters in their child’s formative years, serving as a shared language for barnyard songs and interactive story time.

The cuteness factor also contributes to the appeal of little kids imitating farm animals.  Cuing up a demonstration of your little tyke’s comprehension skills is endearing.  In the baby-talk vernacular, we perceive these animal noises as universal sounds and treat them pretty matter-of-factly.

But the bark of a French dog and the exhausted snort of a Russian horse are nuanced.  In reality, adults interpret animal noises according to the sounds and intonations of their native language – some more convincing than others.  Take a look at this Sesame Street clip that teaches what dogs say in Korea, South Africa and Romania:

Professor Derek Abbott, of the University of Adelaide, has amassed a collection of common animal sounds in 17 different languages.  His animal sounds project also charts animal commands and popular animal names.  For instance, the English command for calling a cat is “Here kitty kitty,” while Russian speakers will coax with a staccato, “Ks-ks-ks.”

When you start to explore the logic behind each language’s impersonation of animal sounds, a well articulate “oink-oink” or “neigh” may sounds more manufactured than we originally thought.  As you watch the following clip, conduct your own survey of the most convincing animal sounds:

In pursuit of my own amusement, I decided to interview friends and family who are bilingual in animal-talk.  They graciously obliged my request to bleat, cluck, and moo over the phone, often pausing part way through to laugh at themselves. We stuck to a basic list of domestic animals.

Kyrgyz; Dilbar (my host-sister in Kyrgyzstan)

Russian; Oskana (my Ukrainian-American aunt)

Do you speak another language that interprets animal noises differently? Are different animals noises more prominent than barn yard calls?  Please share in the comments section below.


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