December 6, 2006

Animal Sounds in Different Languages

Some of the first sounds we learn to imitate as babies are the sounds animals supposedly make. I say supposedly, since each language has its own idea about what those sounds are. While most people hear the mewing of a cat in a similar way (some variant of mee-ow), there is a huge range of opinion about how best to represent the grunting of a pig (see below).

I’ve always thought the silliest animal sound in English is the traditional “cock-a-doodle-doo” attributed to the rooster. To my ear, the Hungarian “kukuriku” or the Portuguese “cucurucu,” come much closer to the sound of the original since roosters don’t really have the ability to pronounce distinct words as humans do.

Here then are some of the more interesting variations on common animal sounds (transliterated into the Latin alphabet as necessary).

Pig (grunting)

  • Danish: øf-øf
  • Dutch: knor knor
  • French: groin groin
  • German: grunz
  • Hungarian: röf-röf
  • Japanese: boo boo
  • Russian: hrgu-hrgu
  • Swedish: nöff-nöff

Cat (purring)

  • Danish: pierr
  • Dutch: prrr
  • Finnish: hrr
  • French: ronron
  • German: srr
  • Hungarian: doromb
  • Japanese: goro goro
  • Russian: mrr
  • Spanish: rrr

Small Dog (barking)

  • Danish: vov-vov
  • Dutch: waf waf
  • Finnish: hau hau
  • French: ouah ouah
  • German: wau wau
  • Hebrew: how-how
  • Hungarian: vau vau
  • Italian: arf arf/bau bau
  • Japanese: kian kian
  • Russian: hav-hav/gav-gav
  • Spanish: guau/gua
  • Swedish: bjäbb-bjäbb
  • Turkish: hev hev

Rooster (crowing)

  • Danish: kykyliky
  • Dutch: kukeleku
  • Finnish: kukko kiekuu
  • French: cocorico
  • German: kikeriki
  • Greek: kikiriku/kikiriki
  • Hebrew: coo-koo-ri-koo
  • Hungarian: kukuriku
  • Italian: chicchirichi
  • Japanese: ko-ke-kok-ko-o
  • Portuguese: cucurucu
  • Russian: kukareku
  • Swedish: kuckeliku
  • Turkish: kuk-kurri-kuuu
  • Urdu: kuklooku

Source: Dr. Derek Abbott’s Homepage

7 Responses to “Animal Sounds in Different Languages”

  1. Markos (non-factional social democrat power?!) said:

    Jajaja… Gringo loco… also known as a moron.

  2. Anonymous said:

    Ive been looking for this webpage.

    Also want to know how train sound, bell sound etc are perceived in different languages.

    Also want to know – peacock. proud in some cultures, beautiful in some other. Wish someone wrote a book on this subject

  3. Hello said:

    great list! very amusing… we should start adding other sounds such as the sound we make when we tickle toddlers…gootchie gootchie…gili gili …. etc…

  4. are there language lessons for that? « transplanting me said:

    […] 8, 2008 by monica @ transplanting me recently, it’s been brought to my attention that animals speak in different tongues. and i had no idea that one country’s animal onomatopoeia isn’t the same as another.  […]

  5. Renee Strietelmeier said:

    My English Language Learners and I thank you very much for the information! Great source!

  6. samantha said:


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    […] wau! heidi turners embroidery works looks fabulous! just want to kick my computer now, I can't …Animal Sounds in Different Languages | SenseListSome of the first sounds we learn to imitate as babies are the sounds animals supposedly … German: […]