How Dogs Bark In Other Languages

You may be barking up the wrong tree.

A dog’s bark is arguably a universal sensation, but the way it’s expressed in language varies based on where you are. If you’re familiar with the concept of onomatopoeia (words that imitate sounds) then you might know that each language has a different onomatopoeic word for the same sound. This is because every language has a distinct phonemic system (a sound system) that creates phonetic limitations for the formation of a word. These limitations also affect how onomatopoeic words are formed and ultimately creates the variation that exists between languages.

So, even though an English speaker may communicate a bark as “ruff” or “woof,” someone in Indonesia, for example, would most likely have no idea what sound is being made. In Indonesian, a dog’s bark is guk, guk, a sound that would be similarly lost in translation for English speakers. This variation comes from the difference in pronunciation of letters and words between the languages (AKA each language’s phonemic system). That’s to say there’s no right or wrong answer, so don’t let this turn into a dog-eat-dog situation. 

The other factor at play is that, well, dogs don’t speak the same way humans do. Human writing systems were developed to describe human language, so when we use it to imitate other animals and things it’s at best a loose approximation. And even within English, there is a huge variation in dog noises, including: woof, bowwow, yip-yip and so on. 

A Dog’s Bark In 19 Different Languages: 

Language Bark Sound
English Woof, woof
French Waouh, waouh
Spanish Guau-guau
German Wuff, wuff
Italian Bau, bau
Russian Gav, gav 
Portuguese Au, au
Swedish Voff, voff
Dutch Waf, waf
Turkish Hev hev
Polish Hau, hau
Indonesian Guk, guk
Norwegian Voff, voff 
Danish Vov, vuf
Arabic Hau, hau
Japanese Wan-wan 
Chinese Wang, wang
Greek Ghav, ghav
Hebrew Hav, hav

While dogs might not actually be multilingual, they also kind of are. With every language’s distinct set of phonetic rules comes cultural and linguistic identity, as well as fun words that shape our daily life. This also creates the duality between universality and individuality that we see in a dog’s bark. Well, after all that, my dogs are barking! 

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