Some fun Friday language explorations — why do animal make different sounds in different languages? Why does a duck in America say, “quack quack” while in Japan it says, “Ga Ga”. The answer is that the words we use to describe animal sounds are abstract names for those sounds, rather than direct imitations of the sounds themselves. This puts the question into the realms of language (what sounds does this particular language offer that best lend themselves to describing the sound the animal makes?) and culture (which animals are important enough to this culture to justify having a name for the sound made?). Curious to know what a rooster says in Turkish? Watch the video below.

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He serves on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.


2 Thoughts on "Animal Sounds Around the World"

this is great thank you. however they forgot the homo sapiens! bahwabahwa

What a great way to wrap up the week!

When I was in first or second grade, my teacher called on individual students to give the sounds made by various animals pictured in our workbook. She called on me to say what sound a turkey makes. Problem was, my non-native-English-speaking parents had never taught me what sound a turkey makes, in any language. When I told the teacher I didn’t know, she asked the full class. There is nothing quite like the sound of a couple of dozen little kids mockingly shouting “gobble gobble!” in unison. I went home in tears and asked my mother why she had never taught me what sound a turkey makes. We BOTH learned a new fun fact that day, and an at-the-time traumatic event has become a very amusing memory.

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