[lg policy] How dogs bark in different languages

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at GMAIL.COM
Wed Sep 24 19:49:38 UTC 2014

(Not exactly language policy, but still interesting...)

How Dogs Bark in Different Languages
 Here is a list of the sounds dogs make when they bark in more than 60
 Published on November 16, 2012 by Stanley Coren, Ph.D., F.R.S.C.
<http://www.psychologytoday.com/experts/stanley-coren-phd-frsc> in Canine
Corner <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner>
[image: email] <http://www.psychologytoday.com/printmail/111018>
[image: dog canine language communication bark translation word]
Almost all dogs bark.  Science has shown that virtually all dogs also can
understand the barks of other dogs regardless of where they come from,
however the way that humans hear those barks differs depending upon the
language that people speak and the culture that they live in. We humans
often try to communicate the sounds of dogs barking to other humans when we
are telling stories using common words like "woof-woof" in English. We also
write these word sounds down, particularly in things like comic strips
where a dog might be saying "arf-arf" or in children's books where we might
indicate that a dog is barking using "bow-wow."

Linguists would tell you that the words that we use to represent dog barks
are based upon onomatopoeia, which is the process by which we try to
characterize a real world sound with a word that sounds something like it.
Some common examples of onomatopoeia are hiss, buzz and thud.
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    I suppose that when I posted my list of the words used to say "dog" in
some 250 different languages [click here to see that list]
it was inevitable that people would start to write to me to ask if dogs
spoke different languages. Many of the queries were obviously concerned
with how people hear or interpret the sounds of dogs barking as when they
asked questions like, "Is the word 'woof' used for dog barks in all other

The answer is that there is no universally accepted sound that humans use
to represent dog barks. Even in a single language there may be a number of
different words used for a dog's bark, for example, in English we recognize
"woof-woof," "arf-arf", "ruff-ruff" and "bow-wow." Many languages also have
different words for the barks of large versus small dogs, thus "yip-yip" or
"yap-yap" are used in English for the barking sounds of small dogs, never
for big dogs. The only thing that seems to come close to being unanimously
agreed upon about dog barks is that dogs almost always speak twice—thus a
Hebrew dog says "hav-hav", a Japanese dog says "wan-wan" and a Kurdish dog
says "hau-hau".

 Over the years I have collected over 100 dog bark words from more than 60
different languages. So to answer the question of how dogs bark in
different languages (at least as far as their human listeners are
concerned) I have decided to give you a look at my collection. The list is
alphabetical by language, and is presented in the format "Language →
Word(s) Used For Dog Barks", where the word for a dog's barking sound is
spelled out phonetically, or at least phonetically as I hear the word when
it is spoken (except for American Sign Language or ASL which obviously has
no phonetic equivalent). If any of you know additional words for dog
barking sounds in other languages that I may have missed, or notice any
entries that I may have wrong (or mispronounced) please feel free to send
them to me and I will edit the list accordingly.

 *Language → Word(s) Used For Dog Barks*

 Afrikaans → blaf-blaf; woef-woef; keff-keff (small dogs)

Albanian → ham-ham

American Sign Language (ASL) → Both closed fists held horizontally
together-fingers in towards each other. Quickly open the fists together to
expose the fingers twice.

Arabic → hau-hau; how-how

Armenian → haf-haf

Balinese → kong-kong

Basque → au-au (any dog); txau-txau (small dogs); zaunk-zaunk (large dogs);
jau-jau (old dogs)

Belgian → wooah-wooah (if you believe Tintin's dog Snowy is typical)

Bengali → gheu-gheu; bhao-bhao

Bulgarian → bau-bau; jaff-jaff

Burmese → woke-woke

Catalan → bau-bau; bub-bub

Chinese-Cantonese → wo-wo; wow-wow; wong-wong

Chinese-Mandarin → wang-wang

Croatian → vau-vau

Czech → haff-haff

Danish → vov-vov; vuf-vuf

Dutch → blaf-blaf; woef-woef; waf-waf (small dogs); kef-kef (very small

English → woof-woof; ruff-ruff; arf-arf; bow-wow; yap-yap (small dogs);
yip-yip (very small dogs

Esperanto → boj-boj

Estonian → auh-auh; auch-auch

Finnish →hau-hau; vuh-vuh; rauf-rauf

French →wouaff-wouaff; ouah-ouah; whou-whou; vaf-vaf; jappe-jappe (small

German → wuff-wuff; vow-vow

Greek → ghav-ghav

Hebrew → hav-hav; haw-haw-how-how

Hindi → bow-bow

Hungarian → vow-vow, vau-vau

Icelandic → voff-voff

Indonesian → guk-guk; gong-gong

Irish → amh-amh

Italian → bau-bau; arf-arf

Japanese → wan-wan; kian-kian

 Korean → mung-mung; wang-wang

Kurdish → hau-hau

Latvian →vau-vau

Lebanese → haw-haw

Lithuanian → au-au

Macedonian → av-av

Malay → gong-gong

Marathi → bhu-bhu; bho-bho

Nigerian (Calabar area) → wai-wai

Norwegian → voff-voff; boff-boff; vov-vov

Persian → vogh-vogh; cut-cut; bad-bad

Polish → hau-hau

Portuguese → au-au

Romanian → ham-ham; hau-hau

Russian → gav-gav; guf-guf; hav-hav; tyav-tyav (small dogs)

Serbian → av-av

Sinhala → buh-buh

Slovak → haf-haf; hau-hau

Slovene → hov-hov

Spanish → guau-guau; gua-gua; jau-jau

Swedish → voff-voff; vov-vov

Tagalog → ow-ow; baw-baw

Tamil →wal-wal, bow-bow, lol-lol

Thai → hong-hong

Turkish → hev-hev; hav-hav

Ukrainian → hau-hau; haf-haf; dzyau-dzyau

Urdu → bow bow

Vietnamese → gau-gau; wau-wau; ang-ang

Welsh → wff-wff
*Stanley Coren* is the author of many books including: Born to Bark, Do
Dogs Dream? The Modern Dog, Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses? The Pawprints of
History, How Dogs Think, How To Speak Dog, Why We Love the Dogs We Do, What
Do Dogs Know? The Intelligence of Dogs, Why Does My Dog Act That Way?
Understanding Dogs for Dummies, Sleep Thieves, The Left-hander Syndrome



 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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