I’ve just found out the Lao word for cat is “meow”. There must be many examples of this but all I can come up with offhand is birds: kookaburra, whiporwill, and my favorite, the brainfever bird which I had thought I had come across in an entertaining and erudite dictionary of Australian colloquialisms by GA Wilkes way back which I don’t have to hand.
(I have just now wikied the latter, however, and it links to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Hawk_Cuckoo
and it is not indigenous to Australia.
The same bird says: brain-fever (English) or pee kahan (Hindi, “where’s my love") or chokh gelo (Bengali, “my eyes are gone") and paos ala (Marathi, “the rains are coming"). You could write a Greek tragedy based on these! The wiki entry also says its cries are really persistent and annoying so maybe brainfever is the best transliteration!)
Posters must have more great examples of this phenomenon, not only in birds which are the most imitative to our ears, perhaps, and not only in English? I can’t think of a single proper mammal name in English that is equivalent to the Lao in which the sound it makes has become the actual name for cat.
I am asking if the REPRESENTATION OF A SOUND has ever become the ACTUAL NAME of a NON-AVIAN creature in various languages, like meow in Lao. I already know Japanese dogs bark “wan wan” rather than “woof woof” but they aren’t called Wan Wans in that language.
Examples of mammals or marsupials or sea creatures with names reflecting the sounds they make is what I am really looking for mainly because I can’t think of any. There must be some in English or other languages.