Tag Archives: Australia

The Dog Says Waf Waf

Arf. Meow. Cock-a-doodle-doo!

We all know that is exactly what the dog says, what the cat says and what the rooster crows.* It’s obvious.

It’s basic onomatopoeia (A word that is spelled the same way it sounds.  For instance, boom or bing or fwoosh or, say, meow.), yeah? The animal makes a sound and that sound is as clear as a bell.

Listen to a dog bark (there’s onomatopoeia for you) and you’ll hear the arf arf arf. It’s just basic. Something that is the same no matter where you go in the world.

Except that it’s not.

Different cultures and different languages, it turns out, have different words for the same sounds animals make.

Where we hear dogs go “arf arf,” the Dutch hear them say, “waf waf.” Yes, really.

Being a wordnerd, I’m always looking for stuff like this. I always love this kind of stuff and, since I’m the one behind the keyboard, you get to hear about it as well.**

wsmbannerI was at the website of Derek Abbot, a dude from Australia, and he has this tremendous chart listing different animal sounds, what word is used to describe their sound in Australian English and the word for that sound in different languages.

Here’s how different languages write down a small dog’s arf arf:
Finnish — hau hau
French — ouah ouah (in a high voice)
German — wau wau (in a high voice)
Turkish — hev hev

A big dog’s bark also has some different interpretations:
Danish — vov-vov (in a low voice)
Russian — gav-gav
Spanish — guf guf

In English, pigs oink. In Hungarian, pigs röf-röf (pron: reuf-reuf).

There’s much, much more at Derek’s website. I seriously urge you dudes go head over there and browse a bit. You’ll definitely leave with a much better appreciation of the words you use every day.

Footnotes & Errata

* If anyone says one word — one word! — about the fox saying something, I will hunt you down and do something appalling to the thing you love most in this world. Do not assume this is a joke.
** Provided you’re unable to actually click the mouse and go to another site. I’m going to assume you’re here for more than that reason. Of course, I like to kid myself so I might be doing that here.

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Sunday Serenade: Love Letter

This is the kind of letter you want to get.

My favorite song from my favorite group discovered in 2013 would have to be, hands down, “Love Letter,” by Clairy Browne & the Bangin’ Rackettes.

Proving that music truly is the international language (sorry, math. Clairy Browne & the Bangin' Rackettes are a fantastically entertaining Australian band that plays a great retro American soul sound.Maybe when we go interstellar.), Clairy Browne & the Bangin’ Rackettes are an Australian band that performs the hottest retro American soul this side of the Commitments. (A tremendous movie, featuring 9 white guys from Dublin forming a great soul band.)

Clairy and the Rackettes are a sultry set of sirens who enjoy strutting on stage and playing up the 1950s vibe so deeply imbedded in American soul.

Here’s just a sample. For more info, you can find the band on (ugh) Facebook.


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Reality Not So Real After All

Maps are our world writ small.

Take the world and everything upon it and then transfer that wealth of knowledge to paper or pixel and you’ve got a pretty accurate representation of what sort of reality you’d find if you looked outside your window.

Or you could be wrong. Completely wrong. As in, so wrong that an island located on world maps, Google Maps, marine charts and even Google Earth doesn’t actually exist.

So how did we find out that Sandy Island, supposedly located in the South Pacific, didn’t actually exist? Did computer dudes perform some feat of electronic legerdemain? Did the artificial intelligence birthing itself within our computers pop it’s proto-head out and let us in on the secret?

No, not really.

All it took was for a group of scientists to actually go to the spot where Sandy Island was to find out. . . it wasn’t.

Neither sandy, nor an island. Discuss.

So, yeah. That picture there to the right is supposed to show Sandy Island in all of its flyspecked glory. Those are the maps. They’re also very, very wrong.

And, even worse, they weren’t produced by asking Siri where Sandy Island is located.

The supposedly sizeable strip of land, named Sandy Island on Google maps, was positioned midway between Australia and French-governed New Caledonia.

But when scientists from the University of Sydney went to the area, they found only the blue ocean of the Coral Sea.

The phantom island has featured in publications for at least a decade.

Scientist Maria Seton, who was on the ship, said that the team was expecting land, not 1,400m (4,620ft) of deep ocean.

Interestingly, if the island had, in fact, existed, it would have been inside French territorial waters, but it’s not to be found on French maritime maps. According to Seton and other scientists, how the supposed island got onto maps in the first place is a bit of a mystery, but one they intend to solve.

One thing’s for sure, though. No matter the cause, it certainly wasn’t Google’s fault. A typically unnamed Google spokesman said his company wasn’t to blame, but that Mother Earth is looking mighty shifty right about now.

“The world is a constantly changing place and keeping on top of these changes is a never-ending endeavour.”

See? Totally not their fault. Totally.

Sadly, with the actual existence of the island now in doubt, I’m guessing my planned vacation there is right out. Ah well, I hear Atlantis is lovely this time of year.


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