There’s no doubt that learning to speak a foreign language takes time and devotion. Some would even consider it an art form - new phrases, new sentence structures and accurate pronunciations to get your head around is just the beginning of the learning process. But as your skills develop you will learn new ways of saying words, and surprisingly this concept is the same for the way certain animals sound too. For example, your typical English dog “woof woof” isn't recognised in China, but is translated to a “wang wang”!
The video shows people from all over the world giving their own ideas on how they think certain animals sound. It’s quite interesting that pretty much everybody agrees on what a cat sounds like, but when it comes to pigs and roosters, things can get a little unusual.
There has been some research into the topic as well – in 2008, a study from Karlstad University in Sweden investigated how animal sounds can differ from animal phonetics and move towards symbolism. The study explains that onomatopoeic sounds for smaller animals usually include a lot more vowels from the beginning of the alphabet to symbolise higher tones, such as a bird’s “tweet tweet”. The study also highlights that larger animals include more vowels later on in the alphabet to symbolise their lower tones, such as a dog’s woof woof in English, Voff Voff in Icelandic, and so on.
As we know, many English speakers can interpret the way a dog sounds in more ways than just a “woof woof” (some would say “yap yap”, “ruff” or “growl” etc.), but in other countries this is not the case. Perhaps the multiple variations are because of cultural differences rather than linguistic ones? For example, English speaking countries tend to have the highest dog ownership per capita in comparison to non-English speaking countries. As dogs have become such a large part of English culture with various dog breeds (some big, some small), it’s no surprise that we have a few more ways of thinking how our furry friends sound to us.
We can't teach you how to communicate with other animals like Doctor Dolittle, but we can provide you with educational resources to help you learn a modern foreign language. Click here to find out what's available!