Children raised in the US know that a cow says, “Moo”, a dog says, “Woof”, and a pig says, "Oink". But you might be surprised to learn that animals, just like humans, don’t always speak the same language!
Of course this doesn't mean that animals of the same species can speak different languages. I mean, we all know that a Canadian pig and a Chinese pig are both still pigs (the Canadian one just has better tasting bacon)! :)
It’s because we humans attempt to translate the natural sounds of pigs oinking, ducks quacking, and cats meowing into words that we can actually pronounce in our own languages.
“Oink”, “quack”, and “meow” are all examples of onomatopoeias, or 拟声词 (nǐ shēng cí) , that help us to mimic animals, weather, machines, and other naturally-occuring sounds.
Learning animal sounds through song
Mimicking sounds is such an important part of any language. Without being able to copy other people from an early age, we would never learn how to communicate with each other! And a great way to learn how to communicate is through song. The below viral videos from recent years prove that animal sounds can be both entertaining and educational.
1. The Little Chick Cheep - 小鸡哔哔 (xiǎo jī bì bì)
This video recently hit China and has spread to every corner of the Chinese web. While the song is extremely catchy—and maybe slightly annoying after a few listens—it teaches many useful farm-related sound words.
2. "The Fox" by Ylvis
There’s nothing quite as fun as trying to imitate an animal in your mother tongue. And no one does it like the Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis who ruled the internet in 2013 with their attempt to figure out what a fox actually says. I'm sure you remember this song! :)
What Does the Animal Say (in Chinese)?
So could the Chinese versions of animal sounds really be that different from what you've heard your entire life?
You be the judge with our "What Does the Animal Say (in Chinese)" infographic below!
Duck - 鸭 (yā)
Chinese: 呱呱 (guā guā)
English: Quack quack!
Chicken - 鸡 (jī)
Chinese: 咯咯 (gē gē)
English: Cluck cluck!
Dove - 鸽子 (gē zi)
Chinese: 咕咕 (gū gū)
English: Coo coo!
Bee - 蜜蜂 (mì fēng)
Chinese: 嗡嗡 (wēng wēng)
English: Buzz buzz!
Dog - 狗 (gǒu)
Chinese: 汪汪 (wàng wàng)
English: Woof woof! Bowwow!
Cat - 猫 (māo)
Chinese: 喵喵 (miāo miāo)
Sheep - 羊 (yáng)
Practice these when spending time entertaining Chinese friends and their children, or use them if you just feel like 呱呱’ing a bit yourself! :)
And don't forget to share this infographic with anyone else interested in learning more about Chinese animal sounds!
So, are there any animals noises you’re dying to know that we didn’t include?
What are some of the unique onomatopoeias (拟声词) in your native language?
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