Animal Sounds

While teaching a unit on animals to my first and second grade class I thought it would be a useful exercise to hold up flash cards and ask the kids to make the sound of the chosen wildlife. Simple, right? Well, not as simple as one might assume. As I quickly learned, onomatopoeia is not a universal language. For instance, a dog in Korea says “Mong Mong,” a bird says “Chick Chick,” and a frog doesn’t “Ribbit ” but instead says “Kay-goo Kay-goo.” A Korean horse sounds pretty much the same, as does a cat. Cross-cultural pigs would probably be understood too, but an English speaking rooster might be surprised to hear his Korean counterpart, who doesn’t “Cock-a-doodle” but instead “Kook-a-rees.” Korean bees don’t buzz but they do go “Yang Yang Yang,” which is probably equally terrifying for someone afraid of getting stung. All in all the animal sound lesson was one of the unexpected moments of perspective that have made this trip so worthwhile. Simply put, the dog park will never sound the same.


Ever wonder what a Russian owl sounds like? How ’bout a Spanish duck? If so, check out this website,


3 responses to “Animal Sounds

  1. That was so interesting to read–It always seem as if the sounds that we humans made replicated the actual sound that the animal made–I guess that is not the case in other countries.

  2. I suppose if you took your dog Ruby to Korea with you she would have as hard as time of understanding Korean domesticated animals as you do. But after one or two classes at your school she would be fine.

  3. Ah-ha! I quickly learned this lesson while visiting friends in Italy a few years back. I was playing with their kiddies flipping through a picture book where you’re supposed to make the sounds of the animal pictured – but (of course) the little guys were making the noises in Italian – which was a new sound to me.

    I guess we grow up to think a pig “oinks” only one way.

    Cool site.

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