Fox Goes ‘Kon’?

What does the fox say?

  Kon-kon… well, in Japan he does. (In archaic Japanese, the fox’s ‘bark’ was written as kitsu, which is believed to be the reason Japanese call foxes kitsune (literally: ‘that thing that goes kitsu’).)

Once again, Japanese efficiency puts an end to the eternal questions like ‘What would happen if you put menthol in eye drops?’ or ‘Why not just have a constant stream of scrumptious sushi transported down a conveyor belt and into my mouth?’.

For those of you who missed it, ‘The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)’ is a song from Norway’s answer to the Lonely Island, Ylvis. Apparently, in Norweigan their word ‘fox’ can be used to mean ‘dope’ or ‘weed’; so, ‘what does the fox say?’ is a euphemism for being high (heartbreakingly, this missed my list last post However, it does set one to thinking, do animals make the same noise around the world?

An example, what goes wang wang, pants vigorously, and loves a good bone? The answer is a Chinese dog and me after a few gin and tonics. What happened to good old bark bark or woof, you say? Well, very few other countries agree with our assessment of a dog’s sound. In Greece, dogs go gav gav, and in Albania they go ham ham (incidentally, this is also the noise that my soon to be brother-in-law makes at Christmas lunches). In fact, Iceland has one of the closest to our idea with voff.

Why does a dog go ham ham you ask? We could make as many jokes as we’d like about the state of inebriation from which each countries’ native speakers suffer, but according to recent studies, animals really do have regional accents. Yes, that’s right. Dogs generally tend to have a different pitch, tone, and display a variety of vocal mechanisms depending on where they are from. The Canine Behavioiur Centre in Cumbria explained that Scottish dogs bark somewhat more lightly than dogs in Liverpool, for example. It gives me unspeakable pleasure to envision a dog speaking with a brogue.

Cows were also found to have regional dialects by John Well, professor of phonetics at the University of London. This is interesting, as in English they tend to be capable of producing one consonant. In Mongolia and parts of India they are capable of producing complex plosives by bursting forth with a gutteral umboo in Mongolian and hambaa in Bengali.

Unfortunately, this theory does not hold water across the animal kingdom. Cats make a sound very similar to meow around the world. In France they go miao, in China they go mao, in Sweden they go mjau, and in Turkish mijyav. Could this be attributed to cats’ universal not-giving-a-fuckage? Probable.

Nor have I heard this theory applied to the comedic stylings of the screaming goats. Do their shrieks intone to reflect their national identity, or is a screech merely out of the game? After hours of watching YouTube videos of the Internet’s favourite hircine, I have yet to make a conclusion other than that their hilarity seems to be of the intensest grain no matter their nationality or music video appearance.

Which brings us back to our first question: what does a fox say? Watch this video and tell me what you think. ( Judging by the ‘gekkering’ at 1:13, I would say that perhaps Ylvis really weren’t that far off when they opined ‘fraka-kaka-kaka-kaka-kow’…


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