"Brekekekex koax koax" -- The Greeks Have a Noise for It
A native of Colombia told me that her elementary school teacher taught her class how to sing "Old MacDonald Had a Farm." The Spanish-speaking children sang it in English, not Spanish, just as American kids sing "Frere Jacques" in French. When it came to making the animal noises, the students made the English sounds (moo moo, quack quack) instead of the Spanish equivalents (muuu muuu, cuac cuac).
In Hugh Lofting's series of children's books, Dr. John Dolittle had no trouble talking with his animal patients. But even among dogs and cats and monkeys there is a huge language barrier. Catherine N. Ball, of Georgetown University's Department of Linguistics, has addressed this situation with her Sounds of the World's Animals website, from which these few samples come:
Dog: Afrikaans: woef; Albanian: ham ham; Arabic (Algeria): haw haw; Bengali: ghaue-ghaue; Catalan: bup, bup; Chinese (Mandarin): wang wang; Croatian: vau-vau; Danish: vov; Dutch: woef; Esperanto: boj; Estonian: auh; Finnish: hau hau; French: ouah ouah; German: wau wau; Greek: gav; Hebrew: haw haw; Hindi: bho- bho: Hungarian: vau-vau; Icelandic: voff; Indonesian: gonggong; Italian: bau bau; Japanese: wanwan; Korean: mung-mung; Norwegian: voff; Polish: hau hau; Portuguese (Brazil): au-au; Russian: gav-gav; Slovene: hov-hov ; Spanish (Spain, Argentina): guau guau; Swedish: vov vov; Thai: hoang hoang; Turkish: hav, hav; and Ukrainian: haf-haf; Vietnamese: wau wau.
(Note: All the listings for cat sounds are very similar to English "meow.")
Duck: Afrikaans: kwak-kwak; Albanian: mak mak; Arabic (Algeria): couak couak; Bengali: gack-gack; Catalan: cuac, cuac; Chinese (Mandarin): gua gua; Croatian: kva-kva; Danish: rap; Dutch: kwak kwak; Esperanto: gik-gak; Estonian: praaks praaks; Finnish: kvaak kvaak; French: coin coin; German: quack, quack; Hebrew: ga ga ga; Hungarian: hap-hap; Italian: qua qua; Japanese: gaagaa; Korean: kkoyk-kkoyk; Polish: kwa kwa; Portuguese (Portugal): qua qua qua' Portuguese (Brazil): qua qua; Russian: krya-krya; Slovene: ga-ga; Spanish (Spain): cua cua; Spanish (Argentina): cuac cuac ; Thai: gaab gab; Turkish: vak, vak; and Vietnamese: quak-quak.
Pig: Afrikaans: oink-oink; Albanian: hunk hunk; Catalan: onk-onk; Chinese (Mandarin): hu-lu hu-lu; Croatian: rok-rok; Danish: of; Estonian: rui rui; Finnish: roh roh; French: groin groin; Hungarian: rof-rof-rof; Japanese: buubuu; Korean: kkool-kkool; Norwegian: noff-noff; Polish: chrum chrum;Portuguese (Brazil): croinh croinh; Russian: khryu-khryu; Spanish (Spain): oink-oink; Thai: ood ood; Ukrainian: hrju-hrju; and Vietnamese: ut-it; Welsh: soch, soch.
Bird: ("Tweet tweet," "chirp chirp" or "peep peep"): Afrikaans: tjiep-tjiep; Albanian: ciu ciu crr; Arabic (Algeria): twit twit; Bengali: cooho'koohoo; Catalan: piu, piu; Danish: pip; Dutch: twiet-twiet; Estonian: vi-diit; Finnish: tsirp tsirp; French: cuicui; German: tswit, tswit; Greek: tsiou tsiou; Hebrew: tsif tsif; Hungarian: csipcsirip; Indonesian: kicau; Italian: cip cip; Japanese: chunchun; Korean: ji-ji-bae-bae; Norwegian: kvirrevitt; Portuguese (Brazil): piu-piu; Russian: chik-chirik; Spanish (Spain): pÌo pÌo; Spanish (Argentina): pi pi; Swedish: kvitt kvitt; Thai: jip jip; Turkish: cik cik; and Ukrainian: tsvirin'-tsvirin' .
Frog: Afrikaans: kwaak-kwaak; Albanian: kuak; Arabic (Algeria): gar gar; Bengali: gangor-gangor; Catalan: crua-crua; Chinese (Mandarin): guo guo; Croatian: kre-kre; Czech: brekete; Danish: kvaek; Dutch: kwak kwak; Estonian: krooks-krooks; Finnish: kvak kvak; French: coa-coa; German: quaak, quaak; Hebrew: kwa kwa (/qva qva); Hindi: meko-mek meko-mek; Hungarian: bre-ke-ke; Italian: cra cra; Japanese: kerokero; Korean: gae-gool-gae-gool; Polish: kum kum; Russian: kva-kva; Spanish (Spain): crua-crua; Spanish (Argentina): berp; Spanish (Peru): croac, croac; Thai: ob ob; and Turkish: vrak vrak.
"Brekekekex koax koax," the ancient Greek for "croak croak," is the refrain of the frog chorus in Aristophanes' comedy The Frogs (written in 405 B.C.). The constant croaking annoys the god Dionysus, who complains, "Brekekekex koax koax -- from you I'm catching your disease!"