Turkish animal sounds

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This is too cool not to share:

Sounds That Animals Make
Hayvan Sesleri

Of the 20 animals represented in Turkish and English (with both writing and audio clips), my favorite is this one:

Hindiler guruldar; "glu glu" diye bağırırlar.

Turkeys gobble; they go, "Gobble, gobble."

Note that the construction for quoting animal noises in English is to precede the animal noises with "they go", while the Turkish animal noises are followed by the quotative verb, which is usually preceded by the word "diye".  I find hard to define "diye", though I think that it means something like "thus" in this construction.

[h.t. Mark Bender]


  1. Karl said,

    April 24, 2016 @ 10:59 am

    "Diye" is a form of "demek," "to say." "Bağırmak," meanwhile, is "to call, yell, shout, make a noise." The phrase "X diye bağrır" is best rendered as "saying X, it calls."

  2. Avinor said,

    April 24, 2016 @ 11:03 am

    But what does the fox say?

  3. Karl said,

    April 24, 2016 @ 11:09 am

    Sorry, meant to keep going with this. -e is a gerund suffix; it also appears in, for example "göre," literally "seeing," used in the phrase "X duyduğuna göre," "according to what X said".

  4. FM said,

    April 24, 2016 @ 11:53 am

    @Karl: so it's like the KJV? "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, …"

  5. Fernando said,

    April 24, 2016 @ 11:54 am

    What I really want to know is whether the Turkish work for "turkey" points to another country. In Portuguese, the word for that bird is "peru". An international bird…

  6. orhan said,

    April 24, 2016 @ 11:58 am

    "diye" is short form of "diyerek", which is the present participle of "demek" (to say).

  7. Bosco said,

    April 24, 2016 @ 12:09 pm



  8. Levantine said,

    April 24, 2016 @ 12:16 pm

    The Turkish word for "turkey" (hindi) means "Indian".

  9. Levantine said,

    April 24, 2016 @ 12:27 pm

    FM, that's a good analogy.

    "Diye" is also used in an extended sense to indicate intention, as in "Seni göreyim diye geldim", which means "I came to see you" but more literally translates as "Saying 'Let me see you', I came".

  10. Bob Ladd said,

    April 24, 2016 @ 12:46 pm

    Quite a number of languages attribute the turkey to India (e.g. French dinde), often more specifically to Calicut (Lithuanian kalakutas, Dutch kalkoen). Are there any other languages besides Portuguese and English that have gone for Peru and Turkey?

  11. E said,

    April 24, 2016 @ 2:25 pm

    All the other Innovative Language Learning languages had the same list…
    Hav! Hav!

  12. E said,

    April 24, 2016 @ 2:33 pm

    Hebrew has “Indian chicken” for turkey as well, but I think Arabic has Abyssinian/Ethiopian chicken?

  13. Levantine said,

    April 24, 2016 @ 2:46 pm

    Some speakers of Arabic call the turkey Abyssinian (habash[a]), and others call it "Rumi[yya]" (Roman = Byzantine (Eastern Roman) = Anatolian = Turkish).

  14. Victor Mair said,

    April 24, 2016 @ 5:05 pm

    I clicked on the link that E kindly provided for Hebrew, but there were only 16 animals listed, and the turkey was not among them.

    Here is what claims to be "the world's biggest multilingual list" of sounds that animals make:


    It has 58 animal sounds as made in 17 languages. Some of the animals are recorded as making separate sounds for different meanings (e.g., there are 10 different sounds listed for dogs) and some are distinguished between the sounds made by the male and the female of the species (e.g., the turkey). Needless to say, there are lots of gaps.

    Dogs go "hav-hav / how-how" in Hebrew. But what do turkeys say in Hebrew?

    Interesting note about "gobble" referring to gulping greedily and the sound a turkey makes:


  15. Y said,

    April 24, 2016 @ 5:51 pm

    But what do turkeys say in Hebrew?
    Unless things have changed in recent years, there is no stereotypical turkey sound in Hebrew, nor dove sounds, though there are verbs for them.

  16. Bruno Estigarribia said,

    April 24, 2016 @ 8:21 pm

    My understanding is that Turkish "diye" is morphologically a gerund, but idiomatically it is used to render purposive clauses or also direct quotations.

  17. R. Fenwick said,

    April 25, 2016 @ 12:30 am


    so it's like the KJV? "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, …"

    Weirdly, this very pattern is frequent in Ubykh, which was also latterly spoken in Turkey before its extinction in 1992. It wasn't at all uncommon for an Ubykh quoted sentence to be followed by the phrase «…» q’en ınq’eq’e, very literally, "(s)he said it to him/her, saying, «…»."

    And FWIW, in modern Australian English (my native dialect) I've also noticed similarly that people often quote speech in the same way: "I said to him, I said, «…»."

  18. AntC said,

    April 25, 2016 @ 12:49 am

    I sez to 'im I sez … is standard music-hall patter.
    And the upper-class twit I say, I say, …

  19. Hans Adler said,

    April 25, 2016 @ 12:51 am

    Regarding the King James Bible style of quotation: I always assumed that in the original language this was simply the natural way how written texts used to mark direct speech. I suspect that originally the "and said" part wasn't pronounced when reading aloud but merely alerted the reader that they had to make a short pause and continue in a different voice. But in the same way that some English speakers say, quote, 'quote' to mark a quotation, it seems natural for a spoken grammatical construction to develop out of this in a literal society.

  20. Peter Erwin said,

    April 25, 2016 @ 4:39 am

    Dan Jurafsky has a nice rundown of the various different words for "turkey" and how they arose:

    The word in French is dinde, a contraction of the original d'Inde 'of India'. In Dutch it's called kalkoen, a contraction of the original Kalecutisher Han, 'hen of Calicut' (the city in India now called Kozhikode)'. India appears also in the name in Turkish (hindi) and Polish (indik) and a number of other languages. In Portuguese, it's called peru, and in Levantine Arabic it's dik habash, 'the Ethiopian bird', after two more countries. Were turkeys just named after any random country? It turns out the story of all these names is one of massive multilingal mistaken identity between the turkey and another bird, the guinea fowl.

  21. Michael Watts said,

    April 25, 2016 @ 4:50 am

    My favorite is this one:

    Horozlar öter; "ü ürüü ü" diye bağırırlar.
    Roosters crow; they go, "Cock-a-doodle-doo!"

    It appears to be in the minority class where the verb for emitting the sound is not related to the sound (compare "Ördekler vaklar; "vak vak" diye bağırırlar." or "Arılar vızıldar; "vız vız" yaparlar."). In fact, the same verb is used for pigeons and for owls, with very different sounds implied:

    Güvercinler öter; "guu guu" diye öterler.
    Pigeons coo; they go, "Coo."

    Baykuşlar öter; "huu huu" diye bağırırlar.
    Owls hoot; they go, "Hooooo!"

    Horses and wolves also have verbs for their calls that don't seem to be related to the calls themselves.

  22. Peter Erwin said,

    April 25, 2016 @ 5:53 am

    @Michael Watts
    Horses and wolves also have verbs for their calls that don't seem to be related to the calls themselves.

    The verb used for wolves struck me as a clear analog of ululate, which is pretty clearly an imitative howling/hooting sound (with cognates in multiple Indo-European languages).

  23. V said,

    April 25, 2016 @ 7:14 am

    A word for turkey in some dialects of Bulgarian is мисирка (misirka), from Miṣr (Egypt). Similsar with мисир (misir), maize.

  24. david said,

    April 25, 2016 @ 7:19 am

    The turkey Meleagris gallopavo is native to North America. Wikipedia suggests the English name arose because the imports came via the Levant ultimately from Spanish ships from the Americas. Perhaps they travelled overland from India to Turkey giving them the French andTurkish name.

  25. V said,

    April 25, 2016 @ 7:25 am

    david: That is indeed what happened according to the most popular theory.

  26. Levantine said,

    April 25, 2016 @ 7:26 am

    It should be noted that Turkish "diye" is not supposed to be used tautologically — "He said, saying …" is non-standard. It functions instead together with words such as "shout", "ask", "answered".

  27. Peter Erwin said,

    April 25, 2016 @ 8:09 am

    @ david:
    Perhaps they travelled overland from India to Turkey giving them the French andTurkish name.

    Now I have visions of a vast procession of turkeys marching overland from India to Turkey… (perhaps a pilgrimage to Mecca that went astray?)

    However, as the link I pointed to earlier suggests, the real story seems to be confusion between guinea fowls and turkeys:

    In summary, the turkey acquired its name through a confusion with the guinea fowl. Guinea fowl were re-introduced into Europe from Ethiopia through Mamluk Egypt, and one of their names was "turkey cock" or "poule d'Inde"[*] in various languages as a result. Turkeys arrived slightly later, and were confused with guinea fowl because of their physical similarity, because they were brought to Europe on the same Portuguese ships[**], because of the Portuguese traders branding everything as an Indian or "Calicut" product, and perhaps because of Portuguese paranoia about keeping secret the details of their overseas discoveries.

    [*] "Turkey" because the Mamluks were originally Turkish, and "Inde" because Ethiopia was sometimes considered part of "India" by medieval Europeans.
    [**] Because the Portuguese started importing guinea fowls from West Africa, and then turkeys from the Americas.

  28. BZ said,

    April 25, 2016 @ 10:39 am

    The Hebrew word translated as "saying" is actually in the infinitive, "to say". It is sometimes translated literally (as in "God spoke to Moses to say [to the people]"), but that is problematic since it is often followed by something like "tell the people of Israel…" and is therefore redundant, so "saying" is still the standard modern translation, though I've seen at least one version that "translated" it as a quotation mark.

    So in short, Hans Adler is more or less correct.

  29. leoboiko said,

    April 25, 2016 @ 11:08 am

    The best thing about turkeys is that around the world they may be called Turkey, Peru, India, Calcutta, Ethiopian, or Dutch, but no one calls them "mexicos".

  30. BZ said,

    April 25, 2016 @ 12:57 pm

    In Russian, Indian Indians and American Indians are spelled and pronounced differently (wonder how that happened). The one that means "Turkey" is the American Indian one, which makes a lot more sense than the others.

  31. Bean said,

    April 26, 2016 @ 8:51 am

    I had a long discussion about this same thing with my Turkish best friend many years ago when we were grad students. We liked that the donkeys were inverted between English and Turkish: "hee-haw" vs. "aw-ee" (spelled "ai" on the website).

  32. BZ said,

    April 26, 2016 @ 9:59 am

    Does anyone actually say in English that lions go "Roaaaar!" or that mice go "Squeeeeek!"? On the other hand, "sheeps" dont baa. They go "baa". Also dogs usually go "woof woof" these days. Birds tweet. They go "chirp chirp" (and not vice versa).

  33. Bean said,

    April 26, 2016 @ 11:55 am

    @BZ: yes, we do: if you have small children this is a frequent topic of discussion.

    The whole cultural phenomenon of teaching all of these animal sounds, most of which they will never hear in real life, often strikes me as odd, for the most part. Then when we do finally see, e.g., a sheep, it's pretty thrilling for the kids when they make a noise that actually sounds like baa. Or just terrifying. Hard to tell the difference sometimes.

  34. BZ said,

    April 26, 2016 @ 4:46 pm

    I don't doubt that people talk about animal sounds. I just wouldn't say that the lions go "Roaaaar!". They either roar or they go "Growl!" or "RRRRR!" or something. I don't know how I'd render the sound a mouse makes, but "Squeeeeek!" is probably not it.

  35. Bean said,

    April 27, 2016 @ 8:22 am

    @BZ: Well my youngest (age 3.5) definitely says Roarrrrr when imitating a lion. As in, there is a vowel sound in the middle. Squeak is also more or less accurate. No doubt the way he says it (having never heard the animals in question, in this case) is affected by how they're universally rendered in the books we read to him. E.g., there's one about Bob the Builder's boots squeaking, getting mixed up with mice. I make my voice high when I read the sounds from the boots/mice but it's still "squeak", as written. I don't think my son has ever seen a mouse. The ones in our house do squeak (alas, our cat is only decorative), but at a much higher pitch than I can reproduce.

    When I see video of roaring lions I'm always surprised at how much it does sound like it should be spelled ROARRRRRR.

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