Friday, October 30, 2009


By Rod Kilpatrick
SF/SPCA volunteer

First, a confession: I’m a relative newcomer to feline society. It wasn’t until four
years ago that a couple of kittens named Gary and Sponge took over my wife’s
and my house, conferred briefly in a corner of our bedroom, and decided to let us
We were honored at the time, and we are now, and we always will be. The boys
have never contributed so much as a whisker to the rent, but what can a person do?
Ever since then, Paula and I have done pretty much whatever Gary and Sponge
say. And yet we still wonder – what exactly ARE they saying?
People around the world have been asking themselves that very question for
Here are some of their answers.

Afrikaans: miaau
Albanian: mjau
Arabic (Algeria): miaou miaou
Bengali: meu-meu
Catalan: meu, meu
Chinese (Mandarin): miao miao
Croatian: mijau
Danish: mjav
Dutch: miauw
English: meow
Esperanto: miaw
Estonian: näu
Finnish: miau, kurnau
French: miaou
German: miau
Greek: niaou
Hebrew: miyau
Hindi: mya:u, mya:u:
Hungarian: miau
Icelandic: mjá
Indonesian: ngeong
Italian: miao
Japanese: nyaa
Korean: (n)ya-ong
Norwegian: mjau
Polish: miau
Portuguese: miau
Russian: myau
Slovene: mijau
Spanish (Spain, Argentina): miau
Swedish: mjau
Thai: meow meow (with high tone)
Turkish: miyauv, miyauv
Ukrainian: myau
Vietnamese: meo-meo


Sponge, pontificating on the etymology of "Meow"
(Copyright 2009, Sponge)

I showed this list to Gary and Sponge. Their response didn’t start with an M, as in “Meow.” It was more like an H, as in “Huh?” So, as any rational person would do, I sat our cats down and demanded an explanation. It didn’t take them long to give me one. As it turns out, cats speak the same language all over the world. It’s only we humans who feel the need to figure out how to spell it. Maybe there’s a lesson in there somewhere. I don’t know. But in any case, meow for neow.

1 comment:

Blair said...

Great article by Rod Kilpatrick!