Bilingual Roosters - They Exist
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.
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