When my class had come to the topic about animal sound, one student asked what the word “tik-ti-la-ok” meant. I said it’s how the rooster’s crow sound like in Filipino. She then smiled incredulously as if she thought I was joking. I could understand why, because the first time I learned about how the rooster crows in Swedish, I also laughed in disbelief. It sounds like this, “kuckeliku”.
Last week, I intentionally asked my work colleagues, who are teaching in their respective mother language, about the rooster’s crow. These are the three languages I managed to crow: (Thai) ek-e-ek-ek, (Finnish) kukkokickuu, (Bengali) kukuruku. I uttered repeatedly these words even trying to sound like crowing, but the sounds don’t give any sense to me.
I laughed again at the thought that this characteristic cry of a rooster has also like a mother language. Searching on these differences, I gathered information that this grouping of words that imitates the sound it is describing, suggesting its source object is called Onomatopoeia. Meaning the sound is named or spelled as it does, like quack, bang, etc.
Native speakers of a certain language would not notice the relationship between onomatopoeia and the object they describe because words for the same basic sound can differ considerably between languages. Non-native speakers might be confused by the idiomatic words of another language, like for instance, the rooster’s cry. I proved it true since I learned Swedish. And no matter how the cry of the rooster sound in other languages, there is only sound that I can determine that makes sense in my ear. In my mother tongue Bisaya, the cry of the rooster is – “tok-to-ga-okk”!