I have always been interested in the ways that animal sounds are "translated" in foreign languages. Presumably, the sounds are the same to our ears.

In English:

  • Dog: woof
  • Cat: meow
  • Cow: moo
  • Duck: quack
  • Frog: ribbit

How are these translated by German ears?

  • 6
    Reminds me of a great French lesson: "What does quoique mean?" - "That's the sound frogs make in France." Might only work with a German audience, though ;) Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 8:28
  • Ich meine die Prämisse ist falsch. Viele Tiere haben eine große Varianz an Lauten, die sie ausstoßen, so dass die Laute, die einer Verschriftlichung zu Grunde liegen, viel eher voneinander abweichen, als dass sie zufällig identisch sind. Commented Jan 2 at 22:53
  • Eine Kuh macht Muh. Viele Kühe machen Mühe.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jan 10 at 19:34

3 Answers 3


These are words which are commonly used in German:

  • dog: wau wau (verb: bellen)
  • cat: miau (verb: miauen)
  • cow: muh (verb: muhen)
  • duck: quak (verb: quaken)
  • frog: quak (verb: quaken)

Other animals:

  • rooster: kikeriki (verb: krähen)
  • donkey: i-ah
  • sheep: mäh or bäh (verb: blöken)
  • bird: piep piep (verb: zwitschern)
  • horse: - (verb: wiehern)
  • owl: hu hu
  • 4
    @Gigili: Correct, though written summ summ in German. @splattne: Maybe the variants wuff for dogs and maunz for cats? At least I've heard them as much as the other ones. Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 8:29
  • @OregonGhost: Just saw that in Takkat's answer!
    – user508
    Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 8:31

Animal sounds are made up to sound similar when spoken (Onomatopoeia), using doubling of the sound in some times. Your examples will translate as follows:

  • Dog: woof = Wauwau
  • Cat: meow = Miau
  • Cow: moo = Muh
  • Duck: quack = Qua[c]k
  • Frog: ribbit = Qua[c]k

Here are some more examples:

  • Bird: = Piep[piep]
  • Bee: = Summ[summ]
  • Donkey: = Ia[ia]
  • Goat: = Meh
  • Sheep: = Mäh

English Wikipedia has some nice links to this


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