Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Animal Farm

Sandra Boyton is a well-know children's author who, depending on how many times your child has demanded you read her books in a row, is either a genius, or should be shot. Or possibly both. All her books rhyme in such cutesy, catchy ways that you can literally recite them in your sleep, which I admit is sometimes helpful when you are falling alseep on the thirtieth reading in one night.

One of her books, Moo, Baa, La La La! opens with the following lines:

"A cow says Moo!
A sheep says Baa!
Three singing pigs say La La La!  
'No, no!' you say, 'that isn't right.
The pigs say OINK all day and night.'"

That kind of sums up how I've been feeling since I came across a Danish children's book at my son's daycare about animals and the noises they make. A fellow American expat-mom and friend of mine recently blogged about her bewildering experience concerning frogs so I know I'm not the only one out there having an animalistic linguistic crisis.

She and I both discovered that in Denmark frogs say, "kvæk-kvæk" which, to an American ear, sounds an awful lot like "quack-quack". Of course, this leads right into the next question which is, "If frogs say, 'quack' then what do ducks say?" To which the Danish response is, "rap". Huuuuhhhhh... My three weeks of Danish classes have taught me that most Danish r's are somewhat similar to French r's - throaty and harsh. The only ducks I know that would be saying "rap" in this way would be the ones dying of pneumonia or trying to cough up a feather-ball.

Solving the burning question - why?

Here's another interesting one with wider implications. Danish pigs say "øf" which comes out sounding like "uhf" or the French word for "egg" - oeuf. This got me thinking that maybe the creators of my husband's latest addiction, Angry Birds, are actually French? I've been speculating about this game since its appearance on our cell phone a few weeks ago beause it doesn't seem to have a logical point. Testy birds bombarding green pigs? But since my run-in with Old McJensen's farm, I'm suddenly finding all new depth and meaning. I can finally begin to understand how a movie might be made out of the world's most plot-less game.
Here's the movie's tagline: (Danish) Pigs, watch out! The Angry (French) Birds called - they want their "oeufs" back!