How Dogs Bark in Different Languages
Dogs, in a way, are "multilingual"; humans who speak different languages have come up with different ways to represent the sounds dogs make. So if you talk about how dogs say "woof" in a non-English-speaking country, you'll probably be *dogged* by confused looks.
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What does the dog say?
Different languages use pretty much entirely different sets of words; onomatopoeia, including animal noises, is no different. So, no; dogs don’t say “woof woof” or “bow wow” in non-English-speaking countries. Especially since animal noises don’t actually make phonetical sounds, so languages can each come up with their own interpretation of how best to represent that sound, adhering with phonetical conventions of that language. And, interestingly, while many languages are in agreement about the sound cats make, there’s a vast variety when it comes to dog barks. Case in point: These vastly different interpretations, from the book The Weird World of Words, of the sound a dog makes from 28 different languages. But first, if you journey to any of these countries, you’ll want to know how to say “Hello” in different languages first!
How dogs bark in Western Europe
First stop: French and Spanish. En français, you have a couple of different options for how to describe dog-speak. You can say ouaf ouaf, ouah ouah, or wouf wouf. As you can see, we’re still in “woof”-ish territory here. Spanish, though, is another story; in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries, dogs say guau guau! (Take a listen here; the “g” is muted so it sounds a bit like “wow wow.”) Also in Spain (northeastern Spain, to be exact), as well as Andorra, you’ll find speakers of the Catalan language, where dogs say bup bup.
Moving east, you’ll find dogs saying waf waf and woef woef in the Netherlands; wau wau, waff waff, and wuff wuff in Germany; and vuf vuf in Denmark. All the way down in geography’s most famous boot, Italy, dog-speak is represented as bau bau. For some more language trivia, do you know about these unique words in English that don’t have foreign equivalents?
How dogs bark in Central Europe, the Balkans, and Russia
Farther east in Europe, let’s pay a visit to the Czech Republic and Poland, where dogs say haf haf and hau hau, respectively. Hungarian dogs change Poland’s version up a little bit with vau vau.
Over on the southeast end of Europe, on the Balkan peninsula, dogs saying ghav ghav is Greek to me! People in North Macedonia prefer the similar-but-shorter av av. Dogs in Albania say ham ham (pronounced closer to “hom hom,” not like Easter dinner!). In Bulgaria, they say bow bow, interestingly not quite the familiar English “bow wow.” And finally, if you’re Russian, your pooch will say gav gav or tyaf tyaf. Already quite the variety! This makes sense because there are lots of different dog breeds that hail from all around the world. Find out what the world’s most (and least) expensive dogs are.
How dogs bark in Scandinavia and Iceland
Moving way up north, dogs in both Norway and Sweden say voff voff or vov vov. The Finns take a slightly different approach with hau hau and vuh vuh. And, on the other side of the Norwegian Sea to the west, the Icelandic bark is also voff voff. Too confusing for you? You won’t have to worry about it with one of these quiet dog breeds that hardly ever bark.
How dogs bark in South Asia and the Middle East
In Middle Eastern countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Algeria, where Arabic is spoken, dogs say haw haw or hab hab. In Persian, also known as Farsi, which is spoken in Middle Eastern nations like Iran, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan, you’ll hear vaagh vaagh. In Hindi, the official language of India, dog-speak is bho bho or the classic bow wow. And the Tamil people, who live primarily in India and Sri Lanka, have three different terms to describe what a dog says: voww-voww, loll-loll, and vazh vazh. No matter what language dogs bark in, they sure are adorable—check out these adorable pictures of the cutest dog breeds as puppies.
How dogs bark in East Asia and Southeast Asia
In Mandarin Chinese, the most widely spoken language in the entire world, dogs say wāng wāng (pronounced more like “wong wong”), and in China’s other major language, Cantonese, they say wōu-wōu. Across the Yellow Sea, Korean speakers say meong meong, which to English speakers sounds more like something a cat would say!
In Japan, dogs bark by saying wan wan (which rhymes with “on,” not “pan”). Farther south, in Vietnam, a dog will let out a gâu gâu or a sủa sủa. But if you say either of those in Indonesia, you’ll be barking up the wrong tree, because in Indonesian, dogs say guk guk!
Once you’ve wrapped your head around these vastly different versions of what dogs say, see if you can keep straight these funny, adorable pet-related slang words (all in English this time).