Mimicking Animal Sounds in Different Languages January 25 2012

sounds animals make in english and spanish1
My dogs understand Spanglish, especially when I say "ya!" But what language do they speak? I always love asking friends from other countries to tell me the sounds animals in their country make, or rather, how they mimic the sounds they make. Onomatopoeia -- remember that old school word from elementary. It's when a word mimics the sound it describes. Like woof, burp, honk or splash. There's an awesome website that was on display at the NY MOMA which is a collection of global onomatopoeia using sound recordings from people in different countries mimicking different sounds. Click on a flag to hear it. Pretty nifty!

But about animals and the way we not only say, but write things. We say and write that the dog says woof, or ruff ruff -- and this is how they sound in Korea, South Africa and Romania. Pero el perrito dice guau guau. The lamb says baaaaa, y la borreguita dice meeeeeee. The chick say chirp chirp y el pollito dice pío pío pío. 

Mind blow! I love it. And if you're a multilingual aficionado you probably love it, too.

But WHY do they make different sounds? Well, it may be because in different places we have different species of the same animal, and the sounds they make differ. I'm sure there are other reasons but I'm no linguistics expert, and truthfully, I just think it's fun because it is what it is: cute!

Here's a book I got for the toddler K in Rio de Janeiro when we visited three years ago, exactly because I love this sort of thing. And now, for you to enjoy, animals speaking Portuguese. As Vozes das Animais:


And of course, all this to say that this was the inspiration behind our bilingual onesie and t-shirt Babel Animalitos. This is a theme I'm sure you'll see more of in our store in the future. It's a bit of an obsession in my home.