The Wayfarer (mnfaure) wrote,
The Wayfarer

I've got your onomatopoeia right here

We got a free catfood sample at a local grocery store, and the sack reminded me of the oddities of onomatopoeias across languages.* This is always interesting to me but especially so since we are awaiting a little one. A little one whom we will raise in a bilingual household. I guess I'll do animal sounds with Little Bean in English, and Julien will teach him or her the French, like the alphabet.  The poor kid is probably going to have a heck of a time learning to spell his or her name. 

In French vs English, some onomatopoeias are similar, but because of pronunciation rules, they are spelled differently.  Case in point, the sound a cat makes: Meow as opposed to miaou. Here are the examples from the sack in question: 

"Mmmh" is easy enough. "Waouh" is an odd, almost-imperceptible smoosh between "wow" and "whoa." But "miam," do you know what English sound that translates, too?

How about these animal sounds:

Cot cot
ouaf waf

* When I first arrived in France as an au pair, the kids I babysat did not understand when I said "aie aie aie;" they taught me, instead, to say "oy oy oy."

And speaking of sounds, French boys don't whistle at pretty girls the same way US boys do. Just so you know.
Tags: hodgepodge, straddling that cultural divide
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