When I checked into a hostel in France not long ago, I asked the reception clerk if he had an extra alarm clock I could borrow...only I couldn't remember the French word for "alarm clock." This kind of thing starts that awkward travel experience when your pantomime, Pictionary, or acting skills come into play. For lack of a better idea, I said, "cock-a-doodle-doo," and then pointed to a clock on the wall.
This produced a spectacular expression of confusion on the clerk's face, which turned to worry, and for a moment I thought he was going to call the local psychiatric clinic and have them pick me up. Then it occurred to him, possibly because of my arm flapping, that I was, indeed, imitating a rooster.
"Ahhh," he finally said, speaking in French, "A rooster...the sound is like this: "co-co-ree-co."
"Yes!" I said, feeling like I was finally making some progress, "a rooster!"
"Sorry," he told me, "we don't have roosters here."
After working on my French, I began to wonder how the sound of a rooster is expressed in other countries, and, for that matter, how some other animals might sound. So I went to the International School in Paris, a private primary school with children from 40 different nations and spoke with an entire class of nine- and 10-year olds, figuring the real experts haven't quite hit puberty yet.
Naturally, it turned out there's not just the French "co-co-ree-co." There's the Spanish version, which Virginia from Madrid says is: "ca-ca-ra-ca." Minwoo from Korea tells me its "kookeow." Melinda has this Zimbabwean version: "coocoorecoocoo." Kate from Australia led me to believe that roosters are also blessed with an Australian accent: "cock-a-doodle-doo."
In America frogs use the rather abstract "gribbit-gribbit." In Spain, however, a frog goes: "crok-crok." In Malaysia, Amir tells me, a frog goes: "grog-grog," while in Korea, Minwoo assures me, it's "gegoll-gegell." And young Katoro from Japan said it's "gero-gero-gero."
How about in place of a pig's "oink-oink"? The Japanese expression is "bukee-bukee". In Korean it's "kul-kul."
We might say "neigh," but we don't have a very descriptive sound for a horse in English. Fortunately, other countries do. In Korea, according to Minwoo, it's "ee-he-he-hing."
In Japan, it's "hee-heeing." Ferris from Kuwait wasn't sure, but offered a horse impression.
I also thought the students might have some sounds for animals that we don't know very well, so I asked.
Kotoro says the Japanese cicada insect goes: "meen-meen-meen." And Minwoo says a Korean mouse goes: "chick-chick." Kate from Australia has an imitation of a Kookaburra bird noise. Amir, from Malaysia, said an Orangutan goes like this.
And Robert from Bolivia said a sloth "doesn't make any sound."
From the International School in Paris, this is Doug Lansky for The Savvy Traveler.
For other animals in different languages, try going to the web site
Sounds of the World's Animals:
Listen to what some of them really sound like at
Digital Nirvana's Animal Sounds Resources:
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