I say woof woof, you say oauh oauh. This great interactive lets you hear how people across the globe say the sounds of 11 animals we all know and love.
When I was young and first heard a Spanish speaker refer to a bird's tweet as pio pio, it was one of those profound moments when the world kind of opens up. My surprise at their odd interpretation quickly gave way to, "oh, of course a bird's song can sound like pio pio!" An animal's sound can be interpreted and repeated in any number of ways. I wrote about this in How dogs bark around the rest of the world, noting the wonderful rhetorical device at the heart of matter:
Drip, honk, splash … onomatopoeia words are parts of speech based on sounds and they add a lot of whimsy to language. And a beautiful thing about the planet's diverse tongues is that onomatopoeia differs around the world, reflecting the flavor and pizzazz of each different language. While a heart might beat with a thump thump in the United States, its French cousin pulses with a bum bum.
Because of the nature of onomatopoeia, many mimetic words in different languages can be similar – but when it comes to giving human voice to animal sounds, charming interpretations abound. Which brings us to this super nifty interactive from gocompare.com which gives exmaples, spoken by native speakers, of 11 different animals.
From the Horse's Mouth by Gocompare