If you are an English-speaking kindergarten or primary school teacher who is searching for the right animal sounds in Chinese, then this is the right place to be! Since Chinese pronunciations are very different from other languages, Chinese people have different ways to say and express animal sounds, which are used both for kids and the everyday life of adults. I’m going to list the eight most popular animal sounds in the Chinese language.
This is a children’s song that all the Chinese kids know. In this song, it tells us the four animal sounds: dog, duck, sheep, and cat. Let’s have a look!
Instead of “woof”, a dog, 狗(gǒu), goes 汪汪 (wāng wāng). Even though some people have heard about Chinese dog eating habits, dogs are still the number one favorite pet in the country. From the cherished companions of emperors in ancient China to home guards and dearest friends in the modern era, the status and role of dogs in China has changed a lot. In addition, rare and purebred breeds are kept as expensive pets for profit.
Quite similar to the English sound of “quawk quawk”, the sound a duck makes is expressed in Chinese as 呱呱 (guā guā), which is also used to express the sound that a frog makes. But be careful, don’t call a man a鸭子 (yā zi), as it is also slang for male prostitute (and “chicken”, 鸡, is Chinese slang for female prostitute).
A Chinese sheep, 羊 (yáng), makes the sound 咩 (miē). Here, the onomatopoeia for a sheep’s sound is very vivid. Chinese people’s love for sheep comes not only from the fact that it is a very docile and lovely animal, but also from a very popular cartoon called “Xǐ yángyáng hé Huī tài láng”, in which a clever sheep succeeds in defending his tribe from a stupid wolf.
Here comes the cat 猫 (māo), and it makes the sound 喵 (miāo)! Recently, there has been a hot debate in China about being a cat-type or a dog-type girlfriend. A lot of people are supporting the cat-type, since the cat is quiet, independent, and full of grace. We also call a “cat walk” māo bù in Chinese.
A chicken, 鸡 (jī), makes the sound 咯咯 (gē gē) when it clucks. Apart from ducks, another popular poultry in China is the chicken. Almost all families in rural areas have chickens, and almost all Chinese kids and even adults know how to sing a song about how chickens cluck (Yes, including me…). Also, when the rooster is crowing, it goes like 喔喔喔 (wō wō wō)!
In Chinese culture, bees represent diligence and hard work. In English, a bee goes “buzzzzz,” while in Chinese, a bee, 蜜蜂 (mì fēng), goes 嗡嗡 (wēng wēng).
A cow, 牛 (niú), says 哞 (mē). There are lots of funny expressions about cows in Chinese. For example, 吹牛 (chuī niú) literally means to blow up a cow, which is slang for exaggerating, to lying, or showing off.
嚎 (áo) is the howl of a wolf, 狼 (láng). This is my favorite animal sound. You might also have heard the funny expression related to a wolf: 色狼sè láng (literal translation for “exotic wolf”), which is slang for “sugar daddy” in Chinese.
This animal sounds vocabulary are really interesting, aren’t they? Wanna learn more about animal sounds? Contact us here and learn it with our best Chinese teacher!