One of my favorite games we used to play in language school was What Do Your Animals Say. Unlike Chess or Scrabble or Settlers, there's no board or pieces involved . . . and the only rule is: at least two different nationalities are present.
The game is simple, we choose an animal and each nationality takes his or her turn making said animal's sound.
One would think that universally all cows say 'MOO' . . . but I'm here to tell you, my friends, that is just not the case!
My buddy, M. stopped by my office today. At some point OT-M came back and the three of us got to talking about animal sounds. He had been helping OT-M practice her newly acquired Hausa greetings and naturally one thing led to another.
'So, what does a cow say here?' I asked.
M. stared at me.
I tried phrasing it another way. 'You know, a cow, what does she say?'
He thought deeply about my question and asked 'You mean, what language does she speak?' still perplexed.
'No, not language, but sounds . . . what is the noise a cow makes.'
'OH! Why didn't you ask that?'
'Okay, so what noise does a cow make?'
'BBBBOOOOOOOOOO' he said with a steady deep voice.
'NO WAY!' I answered as OT-M and I laughed. 'Where we come from, cows say MMMMMOOOOOO!'
'WHAT?!?! WITH AN M?!?!' The three of us laughed.
It was lots of fun, so we continued.
Instead of 'BBBBAAAAAAAAA' sheep in Niger say 'NNNNAAAAAAA'; and dogs say 'WOW-WOW, WOW-WOW' which isn't too far off from our NorthAmerican 'BOW-WOW' . . . but he did find 'WOOF WOOF' to be quite entertaining.
We determined that one of the things that makes the snakes in Niger so dangerous is that they don't give any warning that they are there . . . no HISSSSSSSSSSSSing snakes here. And a donkey's sound was a bit too graphic to write on this blog . . . lets just say Nigerien donkeys sound a bit like they are giving birth and being brutally murdered at the same time . . . and therefore I much prefer our lighter version of 'HEE-HAW'.
We all had a good laugh when M. mimicked a goat: MÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ (pronounced like the month of 'May') . . . but the best were the chicken and rooster!
Nigerien chickens don't 'BOCK' at anything, no, they 'KERI-KERA, KERI-KERA' their way around the house!
And then there is the rooster. As he struts his stuff around the courtyard, the Nigerien Coq has a lot to say. 'KI-KI-RI-KO, CO-CO-RI-CO!' But you can be sure, that just like at home, he's always up, bright and early, ready to announce his presence to the entire village.