Miscommunication between the world’s animals?

Have you ever wondered why in English, we mimic cows as saying ‘moo’ and Turkeys with ‘gobble gobble’, whereas in France, the cows go ‘meuh’ and turkeys go ‘glou glou’.  My student from Turkey told me yesterday that in his country, cows go ‘mööö mööö’ and sheep go ‘meee meee’.  In which the Afghani student laughed and said, ‘they sound the same!’

These onomatopoeic words for animal sounds around the world are fascinating.  Do we all hear these sounds differently, or is it that we have to produce a similar sounding word which easily accompanies our accents and phoneme choice?

It invites the question; if you were to place a French and an Australian cow in the same paddock, would they be able to understand one another?  Ah, cross-cultural communication at another level!  Hypothetically, an English and an Australia cow would have no problem .  They both go ‘moo’.  Hmmm.

Welcome to my blog!  Through this portal I will be exploring linguistic diversity in any shape and form… anything that interests me really.  I will be sharing with you my everyday language encounters in Australia, as well as taking you on my language adventures abroad. 

I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I do writing them.

What do animals say?  English and French:

Cows:   Moo/ meuh

Sheep: Baa/ bêê

Ducks: Quack/coin

Cats: Meow/miaou

     – in French, to purr is ‘ronronner’, the sound of the ‘r’ is so close to an actual purr.  If you can read French, look at Charles Baudelaire’s poem le chat.  The sounds that the poem produces is enchanting.

Dogs: Woof/ouah

     – in Italian, dogs say ‘bau bau’… I would like to meet this dog.

Birds: Tweet/cui

Roosters: Cockadoodledoo/ cocorico

Pigs: Oink/ groin

Turkeys: Gobble/ glou


6 thoughts on “Miscommunication between the world’s animals?

  1. Nice Kat! Look forward to further reading 😀

    And to answer to your question, the French cows would be too busy smoking cigarettes and drinking wine to attempt conversation with the Australian cows. But I’m sure they would make sweet animal love (read: non-consensual) all the same 😉

    • Nice to know that there is at least one act that doesn’t require communication! – Funnily enough, the cows would have to buy the cigarettes and wine, but at least they could produce their own amazing cheese… yum.

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