Languages › Japanese 10 Animal Sounds in Japanese Words Share Flipboard Email Print Marser/Getty Images Japanese Essential Japanese Vocabulary History & Culture Japanese Grammar By Namiko Abe Japanese Language Expert B.A., Kwansei Gakuin University Namiko Abe is a Japanese language teacher and translator, as well as a Japanese calligraphy expert. She has been a freelance writer for nearly 20 years. our editorial process Namiko Abe Updated July 28, 2019 In different languages, there is little consensus about what sounds animals make. This holds true in Japanese as well as other tongues. In English, for example, a cow says "moo," but in French, it's closer to "meu" or "meuh." In Japanese, the bovine says "moo moo." American dogs say "woof," but in Italy, man's best friend makes a sound more like "bau." In Japanese, they say "wan wan." Below are the sounds various animals "say" in Japanese. Japanese Animal Sounds The table displays the name of the animal in the left column, with the transliteration of the animal's name in bold and its depiction in Japanese letters below. The English name for the animal is listed in the second column. The third column lists the sound the animal makes in bold with the Japanese letters for the sound below that. The sound an animal makes in English is included below the Japanese spelling in the third column, allowing for easy comparison to the animal sound in Japanese. karasuからす crow kaa kaaカーカー niwatori鶏 rooster kokekokkoコケコッコー(Cock-a-doodle-doo) nezumiねずみ mouse chuu chuuチューチュー neko猫 cat nyaa nyaaニャーニャー(meow) uma馬 horse hihiinヒヒーン buta豚 pig buu buuブーブー(oink) hitsuji羊 sheep mee meeメーメー(baa baa) ushi牛 cow moo mooモーモー(moo) inu犬 dog wan wanワンワン(woof, bark) kaeruカエル frog kero keroケロケロ(ribbit) These animal sounds are usually written in the katakana script, rather than kanji or hiragana. The Bowwow Theory The bowwow theory posits that language began when human ancestors started imitating the natural sounds around them. The first speech was onomatopoeic and included words such as moo, meow, splash, cuckoo, and bang. Of course, in English especially, very few words are onomatopoeic. And around the world, a dog might say "au au" in Portuguese, "wang wang" in Chinese, and as noted, "wan wan" in Japanese. Some researchers have suggested that the animals a culture is most closely aligned with will have more versions of the sounds they make in their respective languages. In American English, for example, a dog might say "bowwow," "woof," or "ruff." Since dogs are beloved pets in the U.S., it makes sense that American-English speakers would want to have a menu of sound words for this pet. The Dog in Japan Dogs are also quite popular as pets in Japan, where they were domesticated during the Jomon period in 10,000 B.C. Though katakana script is most common, you can write the Japanese word for dog, inu, in either hiragana or kanji — but since the kanji character for dog is quite simple, try learning how to write it in kanji. Phrases referring to dogs are as common in Japan as they are in the West. Inujini means "to die like dog," and to call someone a dog in Japenese is to accuse him of being a spy or dupe. The sentence Inu mo arukeba bou ni ataru (when the dog walks, it runs across a stick) is a common Japanese saying, meaning that when you walk outside, you could possibly meet with an unexpected fortune. How to Talk About Your Family in Japanese Japanese Lessons: Grammar, Vocabulary, Culture Dogs in Japanese Culture Japanese Baby Name Trends Beginner's Guide to Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana Japanese Writing Singing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" in Japanese Do You Know How to Write Love in Japanese Kanji? How to Decide When to Use On-Reading and Kun-Reading Fruits in Japanese Master These 100 Common Kanji Characters to Write Japanese The Most Common Loan Words in Japanese Should Japanese Writing Be Horizontal or Vertical? Japanese Writing Systems Learn Japanese - Where Do I Begin Utsukushii: What does the Japanese word utsukushii mean? Learning Japanese: What Are Radicals?