FL@33, a London-based multi-lingual and multi-specialised visual communication studio, has created a very interesting microsite called bzzzpeek that compares onomatopoeia across cultures. It would appear that kids around the world tend not to use the same sounds to represent common animals and machines – sometimes not even close.
As it turns out, the “cat’s meow is the most international sound there is.” Ducks basically go quack-quack, although “the Japanese ducks go ‘da-da-da,’ and the South Korean says ‘day-dub.’ The Pakistani ducks say ‘tay-tay-tay.’ And the Croatians go ‘back-back-back’ … The Japanese are the only ones without any ‘sss’ in their snake sound. They say ‘nero, nero’ … The South Korean cow is the only one that does not moo. No one anywhere agrees on what noise a pig makes.”