Did you know that roosters in other parts of the world speak a different language than roosters in America?

A few weeks ago, I made the mistake of using the word “cock-a-doodle-doo” with my European friends, and they had a good laugh at that ridiculous word. “Why?” I asked. “What do roosters say where you come from?”

I got a wide range of different answers.

Kukeleku, of course” said Sietse my Dutch friend.
Cocorico,” said Diane my French friend.
Kickeriki,” said my Italian friend Hans who comes from the part of Italy where they speak German.
Quiquiriquí­,” said Iñake, my friend from the Basque region of Spain.
Wo-wo-wo!,” said my Swedish-Chinese friend Tee, who speaks seven languages. (She was referring to the Mandarin word there.) She added: “In Swedish, we say Kuckeliku.”

All of these words, of course, refer to the same exact rooster crow that we all know. Every language in the world creates different onomatopoeia for the same sound, thus all the different words. I had my friends write down how they spelled the rooster noise in my little notebook, and I laughed at all the different spellings.

But the thing that is most interesting to me is that the way that the word is written and pronounced changes the speaker’s perceptions of the original sound.

To me, the English speaker who says “cock-a-doodle-doo,” a rooster crow is a silly five-syllable word with three hard sounds. To most of my European friends, roosters speak mostly in three syllable bursts, with a roly-poly French accent if they’re in France and the thin, sharp sounds of a Spanish accent if they live in Spain. The way it’s pronounced gives the rooster a different personality — the silly barn yard crier, for instance; the steadfast guardian of the barnyard; the noisy nuisance…

If I were to spell how a rooster crow sounds to me, I would probably write it something like “Errrt-uh-errr-uh-errrrrrrrr!” That’s not the most convenient spelling for your dictionary, so I can see why people introduced hard consonants and even the word “cock” in the English version.

I was interested in how “cock-a-doodle-doo” is said in other languages, so I turned to the Internet. The full chart is below. (Note: This list was blatantly stolen from Yawiktionary.com!)

  • Africaans: koekelekoe
  • Albanian: kikiriki
  • Basque: kikirriki
  • Belarusian: кукарэку (kukarekú)
  • Bosnian: kukuriku
  • Breton: kokaralur
  • Bulgarian: кукурику (kukuriku)
  • Catalan: kikkirikí, quiquiriquic
  • Chinese:
    • Cantonese: (gokogoko)
    • Mandarin: (gou gou)
  • Croatian: kukuriku
  • Czech: kykyryký
  • Danish: kykkeliky
  • Dutch: kukeleku
  • Estonian: kikerikii
  • Esperanto: kokeriko
  • Finnish: kukkokiekuu
  • French: cocorico
  • Gaelic: cuc-a-dudal-du
  • German: kickeriki
  • Greek: κουκουρίκου (koukouríkou)
  • Hebrew: קוקוריקו (kukuriku)
  • Hindi: (kukruukuu)
  • Hungarian: kukuriku
  • Icelandic: gaggala gaggala gú
  • Indonesian: kukurukukin
  • Italian: chicchirichí
  • Japanese: こけこっこう (kokekokkō)
  • Kashubian: kùkùk
  • Korean: 꼬끼요 (kkokkiyo)
  • Lithuanian: kakariekū
  • Macedonian: кукурику (kukurikú)
  • Norwegian: kykeliky
  • Polish: kukuryku
  • Portuguese: cucurucu
  • Punjabi: (kukroku), (kukrukaru)
  • Romanian: cucurigu
  • Russian: кукареку (kukarekú)
  • Serbian:
    • Cyrillic: кукурику
    • Latin: kukuriku
  • Spanish: quiquiriquí
  • Swedish: kuckeliku
  • Tagalog: kukaok
  • Thai: เอ้ก-อี-เอ้ก-เอ้ก (ake-e-ake-ake)
  • Turkish: kukuriku
  • Ukrainian: кукуріку (kukurikú)

And then there’s my personal favorite, Pig Latin: “ockcay-away-oodleday-ooday”!

Next time you hear a rooster crow, maybe you’ll think harder about what language he’s actual speaking.