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Culture — Do Animals Speak in Spanish?

by Brandi

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March 24th, 2010

For this week’s Spanish language topic, since we’ve covered some serious topics during the last few weeks, I thought we’d cover a fun, lighter topic today. We’re going to talk about Spanish-speaking animals and what they say.

We will start off with the rooster. A U.S., U.K. or Australian rooster says “cock-a-doodle-doo.” If you look in most major English dictionaries, you won’t find this wonderful, useful rooster word that wakes up the world. I think our major dictionary publishers have missed the point. Since it isn’t even in the dictionary, I’m not sure if I spelled the last part correctly: “do” or “doo?” Anyway, if you go south of the border, (into Latin America,) all of a sudden roosters speak Spanish! It’s amazing, if you’ve ever heard them, they say “kikiriki” [key-key-ree-key.]

Now we’ll take a look at what some other important animals say in Spanish:

Birds or Baby Chicks
(Pájaros o Pollitos)
In English, they say “chirp”, but in Spanish they say “pío pío” [pea-oh pea-oh]. Famous Latin songs have been made up about what Spanish baby chicks say.
In English frogs say “ribbit”. How in the world did they learn to say “ribbit”, my two-year-old can’t even say it? In Spanish, they say “cruá cruá” [crew-ah crew-ah]
In English the turkey says “gobble” and in Spanish, the turkey says gluglú. By the way, the Spanish word for turkey is “pavo” however, in Mexico they call it “guajolote” [gwah-hoe-low-tay] which, according to my understanding, came from the native Aztec Indians.
In English dogs say “ruff”. In Spanish, they say “guau guau” [gooah-oo gooah-oo]. I have also heard dogs from some Latin countries say “jau jau” [how, how]
Some *experts think that Spanish pig says “oink” like the English pig. However, I have heard them say “tru tru” [true true.]
*Experts were from Georgetown University (www.georgetown.edu)
Animal Migration: Now we’ll look at animals who must have either crossed the border from North America into Latin America, or have swum from the U.K. or Australia to Latin America. At least this is my inexpert hypothesis of what happened since they say essentially the same thing in Spanish and English.
Cats in English say “meow” and in Spanish they say “miau” which are essentially the same sounds.
Cows in English say “moo” and in Spanish they say “muu.” They sound the same but cows in Latin America spell it a little differently.
Ducks in English say “quack” and in Spanish they say “cuac.” Again, the same sound with a slightly different spelling.

Basically, if you get right down to it, animals make essentially the same sounds wherever you go in the world. However, as you have seen, our perception of what they say changes according to the language we speak. To English speakers, animals seem to have more of an “English accent” in the sounds they make. Spanish speakers hear animal sounds through “Spanish ears” and they seem to have more of a “Spanish accent” to them.

I personally think there should be an international summit on animal sounds and what they really say no matter what country you’re in! I then think the “true” animal sounds should be put in every major dictionary across the world. That way, when we are talking to animals, we can speak their real language and not just “our version” of “their language!”

To learn more about speaking Spanish (not animal sounds) click here!

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One Response

  1. Johanna says:

    Totally agree with your suggestion! Moreover, the animals should participate in such a summit, don’t you think? I live in a Spanish speaking area with a predominantly ethnic population (Maya) and even they have different animal sounds from other ethnicities. You mention for instance the word ‘guajolote’. In Mayan language that would be ‘Kutz’. The name of the Yucatan Peninsula is derived form two animals: Yuc which is a feasant and ‘Ceh’ means deer!

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