About these pages
Introductory Linguistics textbooks often include a segment on ‘onomatopoeia’, with an exercise which involves comparing animal sounds in several languages. This is always a popular exercise: students are fascinated by the cross-linguistic data, and native speakers of different languages can contribute their own data to the discussion.
The first time I taught Introduction to Language at Georgetown (1992), I used Peter Ladefoged’s wonderful HyperCard stack, Sounds of the World’s Languages (UCLA Phonetics Lab). We later did the exercise on animal sounds. The class enjoyed both so much that I vowed to create a Sounds of the World’s Animals some day. In January 1995, the Linguistic Society of America Committee on Linguistics in the Schools discussed the need for teaching materials at the K-12 and undergraduate levels. That finally inspired me to undertake this project.
• Phonetic transcription. Some readers have asked that a phonetic transcription be provided along with (or instead of) the orthographic transcription I have used. I don’t have any plans to do this, because the pages are designed for the Ordinary Reader. However, I realize that the orthographic transcription is a problem (or a learning opportunity!): languages have different spelling conventions. I will begin to provide recordings of (human) native speakers as soon as I get a good long break.
Animals make much the same sounds around the world, but each language expresses them differently. English and French cows sound the same, but not in English and French! Explore the sounds of the world’s languages through the sounds of the world’s animals.
• Animals: bee | bird | camel | cat | chick | cow | crow | cuckoo | dog | donkey | dove | duck | elephant | fox | frog | gecko | gibbon | goat | goose | hen | horse | hyena | jackal | kite | lion | monkey | mouse | owl | pig | pigeon | rooster | sheep | snake | tiger | turkey | wolf | zebra
• Languages: Afrikaans | Albanian | Arabic | Bengali | Catalan | Chinese | Croatian | Danish | Dutch | English | Esperanto | Estonian | Finnish | French | German | Greek | Hebrew | Hindi | Hungarian | Icelandic | Indonesian | Italian | Japanese | Korean | Macedonian | Norwegian | Polish | Portuguese | Russian | Slovene | Spanish | Swedish | Thai | Turkish | Ukrainian | Vietnamese
Arabic (Algeria): miaou miaou
Catalan: meu, meu
Thai: meow meow (with high tone)