Bilingual, English

Old McDonald Had a Dutch Farm

‘Knor’ or ‘oink’?

And on that farm he had a pig. Depending on whether that farm is nestling in the Netherlands or in England the pig says knor or oink.

A Dutch cow, standing in a lush green field in the Netherlands does not moo; it goes boe, (pronounced boo). An English sheep would have little problem understanding a Dutch tourist sheep, they seem to speak the same language and will happily baa together.

The same cannot be said of chickens. Tok says the Dutch chicken, which I think may draw a blank look from her English counterpart. Cats and dogs seem to transcend the language barrier but whilst a neighing English horse may seem more than a little negative to a Dutch horse, he may in turn believe he is the butt of a joke as the Dutch horse retorts with hihi.

‘Waaaaa’ is as scary as a Dutch lion gets

A Dutch speaking mouse pieps (pronounce as peep) and an English mouse squeaks. A mighty lion roars in English, and says waa in Dutch. Yes, it is difficult to imagine a scary Dutch lion.

If you are rudely awoken by a kukelekuu then your sleep has been interuppted by a Dutch cockerel. An English one will announce it is time to wake up with a cockle doodle doo.

The busy bee on the lavender in your Dutch garden will zoem, but will happily buzz his way around an English garden.

Language is certainly a funny thing and I for one am not certain how to explain to my sons why an animal living in the Netherlands makes a different noise to one he would meet in England. So far, they have not asked, accepting it is what it is. But if they do I will be directing them to their father who can explain why the Dutch animals make such strange noises….. after all a pig clearly does not knor. A pig quite obviously oinks……. even a Dutch one. Right?

What noises do animals make in your second language? Are the sounds wildly different than in your mother tongue?

This post has been adapted from a post originally published on A Letter from the Netherlands.

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