What cats really say

Different languages  have different words for the sounds that animals make. You may think that bees buzz but in Bengali they bhonbhon, in Japanese they bunbun, in Estonian, summ-summ and Korean they have a choice between boong-boong and wing-wing. Cats say ngeong in Indonesia and in Nahuatl (Mexico) they say tlatzomia.

The Scottish poet, Alistair Reid, imagined words for all kinds of sounds (it’s not as easy as you may think): ‘tris-tras’ for the sound of scissors cutting paper, ‘kinclunk’, a car going over a manhole cover and, of course, ,mrraaowl’ is what cats really say.

Have a go at inventing some words for the sounds that you hear every day. What does your dog say? What is the sound of the windscreen wipers on the car in rain or of the post dropping through the letterbox? What does your cat really say?

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