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Most people are familiar with onomatopoeia, if only as the word that they failed to spell in the fourth grade (and if you're a Cracked writer, you did it again just now, like eight times in a row). Onomatopoeia is the "buzz" of a bee, a "knock" on the door, or the "ZAMN!" of Batman's fist as it makes contact with a skull. And, like everything else, it's funny to laugh at how the foreigners do it all wrong.



The Sound a Horse Makes

The horse is a simple, solemn animal. In English, the horse says "Neigh." Meanwhile, in those wacky foreign countries...

Denmark - The noble horse breaks free of its pen after a raging thunderstorm. As the clouds begin to part, it rears up on its hind legs, silhouetted dramatically against the emerging sunset, and cries out in celebration of its new-found freedom: VRINSK!

...What is that, a faucet company? That is a completely alien jumble of letters. That's not a sound a horse has ever made; that's what you get when you smoke Salvia and take a turn in Scrabble. Merely pronouncing it makes one's tongue move in strange and perverted ways, like your mouth is somehow molesting itself.


Listen, you can question our credentials on any of these other entries, but we here in the States eat food better than anyone else, and we know what goddamn sound it makes: munch, chomp, even the occasional om nom nom--they're all pretty good, because they all sort of sound like what you hear when you chew something (inside your head, anyway). Not like:

Hungary - Come on, you've got to live up to the name guys. In Hungary, the sound that eating makes is hamm hamm.

That just seems needlessly confusing. It probably turns every conversation into a rendition of "Who's On First?"

Guy #1: Hey man, what're you eating?
Guy #2 (chewing): Hamm hamm hamm...
Guy #1: I thought you were Jewish?
Guy #2: I am, why?
Guy #1: You're eating ham.
Guy #2: I'm sorry, I didn't hear what you said - you were chewing too loud.
Guy #1: I hate this country.

But that's not nearly as bad as...

Japan- Who went with: MOGU MOGU.

Hey, they live on an island: They've got no one to answer to; it must be liberating. Have you ever lived without any neighbors? You walk around naked in broad daylight, do weird things to trees and become oddly feral at night. That's Japan like, every day. For centuries. Eating is "mogu mogu" for the same reason their noise for "dozing off" ("Toro, Toro") sounds to the rest of the world like the last thing you hear before being trampled by a rampaging bull: Nobody was there to tell them that's goddamn ridiculous.

Who's down for some fish porn?

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Creaking Floorboards

The quintessential "killer is in your house" noise written into every horror movie and tension-filled scene. Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense himself, used the sound countless times. But what if he was from...

Germany - A darkened parlor. A woman sits, weeping quietly. The camera draws closer. She pauses, did she hear somebody or...? No, it's nothing. She stares quietly out the window. The camera draws closer, and closer again. Clearly matching the silent footsteps of a man, advancing on her in the darkness. Now she freezes, as from behind her, there sounds a soft, ominous... KNARZ!

And all the sinister undertones go right out the window. "Knarz" isn't a floorboard creak; it's the sound Jerry Lewis makes when you punch him in the chest. But it's nowhere near as bad as...

Czech Republic - Vrrzzz! That's an insect, a kazoo or an old sci-fi ray-gun. What the hell are floorboards made of in Eastern Europe? We know you're all uncivilized barbarians, but can you seriously not afford wood?


Signaling love, lust, familial affection or even death (depending on the Italian-ness of the kisser and the number of sweet pinstripes on their three-piece suit), the kiss is an important symbol of the human condition. It can be sweet and poppy, like "smooch," but it should never be vulgar or trivial. But just try telling that to...

Norway - If poorly defined stereotypes and geographical ignorance are right, this is where Vikings live, so we are fully prepared for their imminent failure here. We'd guess they have 800 words for both "fire" and "rape," but we are not the least surprised that they don't have the best "kissing sound." So, what do they call it?


Pretty good job, guys. That's probably what it actually sounds like when you kiss somebody mid-headbutt.

But that's at least in the same ballpark, not like in...

Thailand - What's their sound for the kiss, the gesture of passion and affection? When Romeo leans to the cold flesh of Juliet, to brush his lips against her but one last time before taking his own life--his kiss the deepest, most meaningful, heartbroken, serene movement left in his body--what sound would the Thai say it makes?


Then Juliet wakes up, dances a jig and they both start a jug band.

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Balloon/Bubble Burst


This is an easy one. The sound a balloon makes is short, surprising, peppy and full of naive mischief. So fill in the blank, guys: We're going to ____ your bubble.

Indonesia - "We're going to DOR your bubble."

What? What kind of balloons are they selling in Indonesia?

Hungary - "We're going to DOON your bubble."

Man, they're just one letter off from a word we'd totally adopt. "I'm going to Doom your bubble!" It doesn't match the sound, but at least it's badass.

Denmark - "We're going to KNALD your bubble."


No, Danes. Just... just no. You're not.

Rooster Crowing

Oh, Jesus. This is going to be a comedy of errors. The sound a Rooster makes is intricate, striking, fraught with meaning and ever-changing. There's a lot of leeway with this one. Pretty much anything is acceptable. Except...


Did you throw that up in the bathroom of a strip club? What the hell kind of monster chickens do you have that are capable of a hard "G" sound?

The criteria for this was vast, open-minded and broad, yet you still found a way to fail. That was probably the only possible wrong answer to the questi-


Haha, who let you out of your cage, Nepal? Here, let's check back in with English for the grounded, down-to-earth, accurate transcription of the Rooster:

United States - COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO.


We gave you a chance to shine, America, and you strung together two dick references and a poop joke. You know, we learned something today: You can't judge other cultures by their differences, you can only accept and celebrate them, because when it all comes down to it, all that really matters is this:

We are all equally retarded, spastic and wrong.

Matthew Scott (Erman) writes for www.passivevoice.tumblr.com and resides in Columbus, Ohio being generally unfunny while reading his "serious literature" in coffee houses, behind garbage dumpsters and loudly on the street corners.

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