Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Spanish dogs say "guau guau".
April 30, 2002 1:44 PM   Subscribe

Spanish dogs say "guau guau". Did you ever read comics or something in a language other than your cradle tongue and notice that onomatopoetic words, particularly for animal sounds, are different in different languages? This webpage has animal sounds from loads of languages, organized by language and animal. Indonesian dogs say "gonggong".
posted by jeb (46 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
If anyone knows where to find Calvin and Hobbes on the web translated into languages other than English, please post a link. I once saw a translation of the one where they pretend to be a train (loads of onomatopoetic train sounds) translated to German but I can't find it.
posted by jeb at 1:45 PM on April 30, 2002


Portuguese dogs go "ão ão". And there you have the "Iberia" lie put to rest. I can vouch for the Latin languages(Italian, French, Portuguese, Spanish)that it's very well done. Interesting stuff, no? I mean, the way you hear sounds must obviously be influenced by the sounds you make when speaking.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:53 PM on April 30, 2002


In Japan, dogs say "wan wan," and cats say "nya nya." And cows supposedly say "mo mo" (rather than the American "moo moo") which my parents tried to substantiate, leaving me in a petting zoo unattended only to have my sundress eaten by goats. It was traumatic since I was only 4.
posted by mariko at 1:53 PM on April 30, 2002


Now you would handle that with aplomb, yes? I really wonder if there's any system to it, or if it's predictable once you know what sounds are in a language. It's weird how some of them are almost all the similar (almost all the cow ones begin with "m"). The only thing that sucks about it is it doesn't really explain what sounds the letters represent.

What's the "Iberia" lie? I think it's kinda weird how there's a decent similarity between the Portugese and Spanish ones, then you've got Catalan with "bup, bup". The Basque dogs probably say something completely unrecognizable as a dog sound to anyone else.
posted by jeb at 1:59 PM on April 30, 2002


i always thought birds went chirp! and goats go baaah?

btw, cock-a-doodle-doo rocks :)

what sound does a zebra make?
posted by kliuless at 2:03 PM on April 30, 2002


I really don't see how you can listen to the sound a dog makes and get "wan wan" or "gong gong" out of it.
posted by kindall at 2:05 PM on April 30, 2002


That zebra sound is the craziest thing I've ever heard. I thought it was fake but it sounds like this one too.
posted by jeb at 2:09 PM on April 30, 2002


wtf, cock-a-doodle-doo ? That's too complicated.
In spanish is Kikirikí. :)
posted by papalotl at 2:14 PM on April 30, 2002


jeb, browse around the Calvin *und* Hobbes fan page (in German)...
posted by stormy at 2:20 PM on April 30, 2002


Two thoughts: Once one grasps the arbitrariness of these words, the similarities that do exist (1, 2) become all the more interesting.

I think its really interesting that children (learning Am. English) seem to spend a lot of time learning animal sounds, especially since they turn out to be no more iconic and no more easy than other words.
posted by rschram at 2:21 PM on April 30, 2002


That goat has devil eyes!
posted by ry at 2:24 PM on April 30, 2002


Wait a minute: is the zebra wav file supposed to sound like a bunch of static?
posted by Shadowkeeper at 2:33 PM on April 30, 2002


I usually find that representations of animal sounds are more accurate in languages other than English (well, the ones I've heard of anyway).

I love how in Chinese the word for cat (mao) is the sound it makes too.
posted by girlhacker at 2:34 PM on April 30, 2002


So now my question is, when they dub TV shows like the Simpsons, do they dub over the animal sounds too? If my stupid TV had an SAP button, I could find out now, cause that Tomacco episode of the Simpsons is on.
posted by jeb at 2:40 PM on April 30, 2002


So now my question is, when they dub TV shows like the Simpsons, do they dub over the animal sounds too? If my stupid TV had an SAP button, I could find out now, cause that Tomacco episode of the Simpsons is on.
posted by jeb at 2:41 PM on April 30, 2002


Japanese manga has an incredible variety of words that are used to describe very specific sound effects; for instance:To give you an idea in context, here's an example page from a translated, bilingual manga, Love Hina, in which they've tried to explain the sound effects as well. (Remember to read the frames from right to left!)
posted by chrismear at 2:43 PM on April 30, 2002


the german calvin and hobbes link is great.. thanks...



puga
posted by PugAchev at 2:49 PM on April 30, 2002


Put me in the anti cock-a-doodle-doo camp. :) It always seemed silly and not at all like the sound a rooster makes.

Its one thing to see these sounds spelled out, but when I say, kikiriki in spanish you have to keep in mind that I am trying to sound like a rooster ( KI--KIRI-KI in a high-pitched voice, with a trailing 'eee') Inflections and pitch modulations dont come across well in the written word.
posted by vacapinta at 2:52 PM on April 30, 2002


Calvin y Hobbes. Jajajaja. (that's how Spanish laughter sounds)
posted by papalotl at 2:57 PM on April 30, 2002


Jeb: The Iberian lie is the idea that the Portuguese and Castilian languages are similar. Catalan's sound is nearer.

Btw, CÓ-CÓ-RÓ-CÓ-CO is what Portuguese roosters do. Chickens go TCHIC-TCHIC-THOC. "Kikiriki" is a term used for unimportant, fussy-sounding issues. For instance, whether strike tags should be used sparingly or not is a kikiriki question.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:57 PM on April 30, 2002


sorry, forgot the link
posted by papalotl at 3:00 PM on April 30, 2002


Portuguse roosters sound like Perry Como? :)
posted by vacapinta at 3:02 PM on April 30, 2002


rschram - I don't think they are arbitrary at all. My guess is the language-doohickey in the brain has some sort of logic to deal with mapping real world sounds to sequences of sounds from its language.

Look at the examples you picked out. Could that be a coincidence? I also bet that if you could come up with some sort of metric for sound-similarity between two languages, the animal sounds similarity across two would be somehow correlated with the sound-similarity.

On the cock-a-doodle-doo issue, even Peter Pan says something more like "ert-ertert-er-oo".

ps - the C&H links rule.
posted by jeb at 3:05 PM on April 30, 2002


okay, maybe you have to think of it in a ned flanders mindset :) cock-a-doo-diddly-doo partner!
posted by kliuless at 3:10 PM on April 30, 2002


I'm surprised that there's so much confusion over this. Are the only bi-lingual people here Miguel and myself? I figured the basic answer to this would be simple, and Miguel hinted at it in his first post:

I mean, the way you hear sounds must obviously be influenced by the sounds you make when speaking.

There's also the other side of that. Some sounds just don't exist in some languages, not to mention letters. Japanese has no R sound, for example. It tends to get replaced with their L sound, which is how we end up with "Rotsa ruck!" and "I'm so solly." So the onomatopoeia gets parsed in a different way. "Bow wow," given to a Spanish-speaking person to say would not come out of their mouth sounding like a (English)dog sound. It would be more like "bo whoa"(roughly phonetic). The Ws on the ends would just seem strange to them.
Realistically, I think that the Spanish dog sound is a little more accurate and less stylized than the English. Strictly speaking, I don't think dogs are able to make a B sound.
posted by Su at 3:11 PM on April 30, 2002


I was also wondering this morning, do people say "hush", "shush" and "shhhh" in other languages to get people to quiet down?
posted by jeb at 3:12 PM on April 30, 2002


The "bock! bock!" and "cluck! cluck!" chicken dichotomy has always interested me. They actually sound somewhere in between.

I can attest that zebras do make that horrible noise, as one did it very near my ear when I was a child.
"There is the empty chapel, only the wind's home.
It has no windows, and the door swings,
Dry bones can harm no one.
Only a cock stood on the rooftree
Co co rico co co rico

In a flash of lightning. Then a damp gust
Bringing rain"
It was years after I read TS Eliot's "The Waste Land" before I realized that "Co co rico co co rico" was the sound the rooster was making. I just accepted that it was some Eliotism like "ganga" and "Damyata" and "Why then Ile fit you" that I was too dense to understand.
posted by evanizer at 3:14 PM on April 30, 2002


On a more serious note, I'd like to see a wider library like this which covers sounds not only of animals but also:

Fillers: "um","er" in English; "uhh" in French
Natural sounds: boom, zap etc.
bodily sounds: sneezes (Achoo) etc.
Exclamations: Wow! Ay!

any other onomatopeic sounds.

Are the only bi-lingual people here Miguel and myself?

Maybe. I speak four languages myself.
posted by vacapinta at 3:17 PM on April 30, 2002


*smacks Vacapinta*
*grins*

As far as filler, I was highly amused to see a Spanish soap opera(the best kind) recently, where this guy kept saying "like" by just using the spanish word for it. I'd never thought about how it would be done before that. Reverse Spanglish, maybe?

Um, uh, er and eh generally become more like Ah or Eh in Spanish.
posted by Su at 4:30 PM on April 30, 2002


And in Korea, the sound dogs make sounds like "please don't kill me and grind me up into burgers and squeeze my guts into dog juice". Or something like that.
posted by Mack Twain at 4:56 PM on April 30, 2002


which also happens to be a rough phonetic translation of "Enjoy Coca-Cola" to Korean.
posted by jeb at 5:02 PM on April 30, 2002


evanizer: Jug, jug, jug, jug, tereu.

I'm not really multilingual -- I've forgotten a good deal of my French, though I can get a lot out of many written European languages.

I'll take the central question here and turn it around. The linguistic history approach is to take the words of a language and reconstruct a working ancestry -- for instance, a lot of fishing words would indicate a tribal origin near the water. Similarly, the kinds of transcriptions a language uses for animal sounds (or human paralanguage) actually can tell us quite a bit about the historical and cultural context of that group's relationship with animals. If Koreans eat dog meat soup, for instance, are they anywhere near as likely as Westerners to imbue dog noises with qualities of speech and intelligence? Probably not.

Uh, I actually wrote that bit before the peanut gallery weighed in. :-S
posted by dhartung at 5:05 PM on April 30, 2002


Interesting idea, but how does "woof woof" or "bow wow" have qualities of speech and intelligence?

On a side note, I'm not sold on the linguistic historic-approach in general in the area I've most commonly seen it: locating the home of the Indo-Europeans. Mostly cause I'm totally not sold on the Indo-Europeans supposed one-time cultural dominance of all of Eurasia. It just seems so unlikely. Couldn't there be some sort of web-like effect where words converge to similar forms as ones in their neighboring languages from trade or exposure or something, and these could propagate?
posted by jeb at 5:48 PM on April 30, 2002


I always liked what pigs say in Norwegian: nuf nuf. Nuff said?
posted by y2karl at 6:15 PM on April 30, 2002


co-co-rico is the french rooster sound. (i lernt that in schule).

chinese is a language developed by cats so naturally they would have a good sound for the meow.
posted by ggggarret at 10:14 PM on April 30, 2002


Are the only bi-lingual people here Miguel and myself?

I'm fluent in Spanish and can communicate in French. One of my French textbooks had some exclamations and the equivalent of the English Ow! was Aieee! I'm surprised I still remember that.
posted by jaden at 11:44 PM on April 30, 2002


Fillers: "um","er" in English; "uhh" in French
Natural sounds: boom, zap etc.
bodily sounds: sneezes (Achoo) etc.
Exclamations: Wow! Ay!


In Greek: Filler: eeee, aaaa
Natural sounds: Bam, paf
bodily sounds: coughing: goukh (kh is pronounced as in Scottish Loch)
Exclamations: amazement: Po po! Pain: Akh! Okh!Aou! Aman!
Demanding silence: sssss! sout!
etc.
A fascinating example of the usefulness of animal sounds in "decoding" ancient pronounciations is Aristophanes' description of the sound sheep make. According to modern Greek pronounciation ("modern" meaning ever since the koene Greek i.e. circa 100 BC) what he wrote (beta eta) would be pronounced vi, vi. Since sheep couldn't imaginably be going "vi, vi" in ancient times this description showed that in Classical Athens beta was pronounced "b" and eta as a long e.
posted by talos at 2:09 AM on May 1, 2002


What a great multi-everything thread. Talos's post provides a great matrix. The most interesting to me is the most ubiquitous general exclamation, used to express pain, longing, amusement, surprise, everything. It must also figure heavily in its written form, from classical poetry to popular songs. Anyway, here's the definite winner for Portuguese. It figures in more than 50% of sentences and is pronounced exactly like the English "I":

Ai!

The Spaniards tack an "...eee" to it, as in Gonzales, Speedy, The Collected Works, Burbank University Press, Los Angeles, U.S.A. The Standard English equivalent would be "Oh". What's yours?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:56 AM on May 1, 2002


Miguel: I found this.
posted by vacapinta at 11:31 AM on May 1, 2002


That about says it all, vacapinta - how interesting! Cheers!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:02 PM on May 1, 2002


I'm not sure how I feel about the Spanish/Mexican example noting that Mexicans will inevitably add a cussword.
posted by vacapinta at 1:28 PM on May 1, 2002


I really don't see how you can listen to the sound a dog makes and get "wan wan" or "gong gong" out of it.

can you really figure how you get "bow wow" from it though? ruff ruff sort of makes sense though it would probably be more like ruh ruh (my neighbor's dog was just barking... how serendipitous). but like people said earlier, it's really the way you perform it, so to speak, not the letters themselves. Animals don't have nearly the ability of humans to articulate distinct sounds. The sounds they make tend to be best imitated using mostly just your throat. "b" and "m" sounds are basically just a result of opening your mouth at the beginning. There seem to be quite a lot of m's and b's (less p's which are also the same position, but unvocalized), and also g's and k's which are at the back of the mouth...

that zebra sound is wild. It sounds like a bird of some sort.
posted by mdn at 4:27 PM on May 1, 2002


I had an Estonian houseguest for ten days last month, and we spent an entertaining hour or so discussing the sounds animals make in Estonian. My favorite was the piglet "Rhee! Rhee!" versus the adult pig "Rhuk! Rhuk!" And in Estonian, those r's are trilled.

(As an aside, when I introduced her to some of my fellow Americans, some actually asked her, "So, what language do you speak?")
posted by acridrabbit at 9:20 AM on May 2, 2002


Animals don't have nearly the ability of humans to articulate distinct sounds.

Check out Weddell Seals
posted by jeb at 2:17 PM on May 2, 2002


Check out Weddell Seals

interesting sounds, but I'm not sure how it relates to what I was getting at. what I mean is, we have such a variety of particular noises that we can make, whereas the majority of animals only make a few different sounds. Even if they're very weird or interesting noises, they commonly simply don't have the muscles to create a wide array of sounds the way we do. Think of how many animal noises we can successfully copy; the only one that I can think of which can copy us at all is the parrot. Like I said, most animal noises are made just using the throat. Humans have really quite unique tongues which allow us incredible articulation.
posted by mdn at 2:45 PM on May 2, 2002


Think of how many animal noises we can successfully copy...

I can think of several animal noises human can't approximate. Bats, for instance, use ultrasonic noise we can't even perceive, much less articulate. The same could be said for many marine mammals, and the subsonic communication of elephants. Of course, I suspect you are thinking amplitude and I am thinking frequency.
posted by piskycritter at 4:32 PM on May 4, 2002


« Older Five Finger Fillet....  |  DVD covers that stink!... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments