Bilingual Roosters - They Exist

This is my own Serama rooster-to-be who currently sounds like a voice-cracking teenage boy mixed with a broken toy. Hilarious.
This is my own Serama rooster-to-be who currently sounds like a voice-cracking teenage boy mixed with a broken toy. Hilarious.

Did you know that it is only English speaking roosters that crow cock-a-doodle-doo? For most of my existence I was naive in the fact I thought all roosters worldwide screamed this loveable nonsense phrase, but I have learned a strange truth - they say something different in every language.

I was maybe twelve when I was taking French class, taught by an actual French woman, when I learned that barnyard animal noises can be tricky. For instance she thought we were all absolutely bonkers when we told her our horses neighed and whinnied and when we told her our roosters went, "cock-a-doodle-doo!" the expression on her face was priceless. It was as if she was trying to figure out if we were yanking her chain, a class-wide conspiracy to convince her that roosters made funny noises. You see French roosters sing, "coco-rico!" This word has no real meaning, much like cock-a-doodle-doo its just an impression of what the poor bird sounds like to the people around it. Ever since this day I have started to play a game called, "What do roosters say?" Its sounds absolutely retarded but the answers are always so surprising and it makes for lively dinner conversation. German roosters for instance say, "kik-a-ricki!" while Dutch ones say, "Kukeleku!" (This is pronounced coo-coo-la-coo.) The funny thing is the chickens themselves do not realize they speak different languages. Indeed, for giggles one day I called out, "Kukeleku!" to my own laying hens. Both my Dutch boyfriend and I laughed our asses off when every one of those birds beat it like a bat out of Hell, trying desperately to get back into their coop and to safety. They ran so fast they were climbing over each other to get in! I don't know what they think we said but I can only assume it translated as, "We're about to eat all of you - run for your lives!" Whenever I am having a bad day and need a laugh I will repeat this experiment with the same bizarre results.

Its not just the roosters either. Roosters are particularly fun since no one can seem to agree how many syllables they're croaking or what the noise even sounds like, but there are other suspiciously polylingual animals. I remember staying up late one night asking my Dutch boyfriend what all the barnyard animals say and to this day I give him guff for thinking frogs quack like ducks. Frogs don't quack, they say ribbit ribbit! He thoroughly disagrees. So would a Korean. Their frogs apparently say, "gae-gool-gae-gool!" I don't think I have ever heard a frog say that but then again I have never met a Korean frog...

For more chicken madness feel free to check out my blog Tales from the Birdello.

This is Titus, my other rooster who may be the world's only lazy OCD rooster - crowing exactly four times when he wakes up (usually at the break of noon) before deciding its too much of a bother to go on.
This is Titus, my other rooster who may be the world's only lazy OCD rooster - crowing exactly four times when he wakes up (usually at the break of noon) before deciding its too much of a bother to go on.

More by this Author


Comments 7 comments

Farmer Rachel profile image

Farmer Rachel 3 years ago from Minnesota

Funny article and nice-looking birds. Voted up!


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

Where is Hub Pages' avian club? Well, good article, thank you.


Theophanes profile image

Theophanes 3 years ago from New England Author

Thank you! And I have no idea Mhatter99! Maybe you should start one. ;)


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 3 years ago from Canada's 'California'

You know, I never really thought about what barnyard animals said (or how we heard them.) Now I want to travel so I can hear a Spanish or Italian rooster crow!


Theophanes profile image

Theophanes 3 years ago from New England Author

Me too! I noticed with cockatiels years ago that some would come in with different accents and sound really funny compared to the resident cockatiels. I sort of wonder if roosters aren't the same!


ElleBee 3 years ago

Very interesting. I remember talking about animals making "different" sounds in my french and spanish classes, but I always thought the difference was in the way speakers of other languages translated the sounds into a "word" as opposed to the animal actually sounding different. Definitely interesting.


Blond Logic profile image

Blond Logic 3 years ago from Brazil

I am in Brazil and I have had roosters. Can't say I recall what locals call the crowing though. I will say, the bird the Kiskadee, named because of the sound it makes, is called a Bem-ti-vi in Brazil. This too is how they have interpreted the sound.

Interesting article.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working