Canine Corner

The human-animal bond

How Do You Say Dog

The word used for dog in some 250 languages.

Our grandson, Matty, looked up from playing with a model of a starship cruiser and asked me, "Do you know what the Klingon word for dog is?" Since artificial languages used in televised science fiction series are not one of my specialties I shook my head. So Matty happily laughed and answered his own question with "Targh." A short time later I scribbled the word down, not because I ever expect to find myself interacting with members of any of the alien races depicted in any of the Star Trek series but rather to add the word to my collection.

 

dog canine puppy word language translation human animal bond
I consider myself to be a collector; however I don't collect physical things, such as objects that you can hold in your hand, like stamps, coins, action figures, or baseball cards. Instead I like to collect concepts, words, stories, and random bits of trivia. My love of dogs means that many of the words and stories that I collect have to do with canines and "targh" seemed like a fun word to add to my album.

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 Over the years I have often found myself looking for words that mean "dog" in various languages as part of writing projects that I was working on and each of these has been added to my list. For example, just recently I was rewriting an African folktale about dogs, for a book that I'm working on. During the course of that writing I found myself asking "How do you say dog in Swahili?". When I consulted the file in which I keep my dog related terms, I did find the word (which is "mbwa"), but also noticed that by now I have collected over 250 words that mean dog in many languages (some of which are fairly esoteric, ancient or rare). I thought to myself, that just on the off-chance that there are other people out there who would also like to know the labels that are used to describe our canine friends in other languages, I would take this opportunity reprint my collection here. The list is alphabetical by language, and is presented in the format "Language → Word For Dog", where the word for dog is spelled out phonetically, or at least phonetically as I hear the word when it is spoken. If any of you know additional words for dog in other languages that I may have missed, or notice any entries that I may have wrong (or mispronounced) please feel free to send them to me and I will edit the list accordingly.

 Language → "Dog"

Ainu → seta

Afrikaans → hond

Akkadian → kalbum

Alacaluf → kiurro

Albanian → qen, kelysh

Algonquian → athemwa

American Sign Language (ASL) → slapping your right flat hand against your leg, then snapping your fingers

Amharic → wäshsha

Anglo-Saxon → docga, hund

Apache → góshe´

Arabic → kalb

Aragonian → gos

Aramaic → kalba

Armenian → shun

Arrernte (Western) → kngwelye

Assamese → kukur

Assyrian → kalbu

Asturian → perru

Atayal → huzil

Aymara → anu

Balinese → cicing

Bashkir → et

Basque → zakur, txakur

Batak (Toba) → asu

Belarusian → sabaka

Bemba → imbwa

Bengali → kukur, kutro

Berber (Kabyl) → uccay

Berber (Tamazight) → aydi

Bergamasco → ca

Bolognese → can

Bosnian → pas

Breton → ki

Bugotu → aku, iuiu

Bulgarian → kuche

Burmese → hkway:

Burushaski → huk

Cambodian → Jakay

Cantonese → gáu, káu

Catalan → gos

Cham → Sao

Chechen → zhala

Cheremis (Mari) → piy

Cherokee → gi li, gi-tli

Chinese (Mandarin) → gou

Chinook → kamuks

Choctaw → ofi

Chuvash → jyta

Coptic → uhor

Cornish → ky

Corsican → cane

Cree → atim

Czech → pes

Danish → hund

Dholuo → guok

Dutch → hond

Ecuadorian Quechua → allcu

Egyptian (ancient) → auau, uahr, uher

Eskimo → kringmerk

Esperanto → hundo

Estonian → koer

Evenki → nginakin

Faeroese → hundur

Fijian → kolii

Finnish → koira

French → chien

Frisian → hun, dogge

Fulani → rawandu

Gagauz → köpek

Galician → can

Georgian → dzahhli

German → Hund

Gothic → hunds

Grebo → gbe

Greek (New Greek) → skyli

Greek (Old Greek) → kyon

Guarani → jagua

Gujarati → kutto

Haitian Creole → chen

Hakka → kieu-e

Hausa → kare

Hawaiian → ilio, 'iilio

Hebrew → kelev

Hindi → kuttaa, shvaana

Hmong → dev

Hungarian → kutya

Hurrian → irvi

Icelandic → hundur

Igbo → nkita

Ilocano → aso

Indonesian → anjing

Interlingua → can

Inuit → kringmerk

Inuktitut → qimmiq

Irish → madra

Italian → cane

Japanese → inu

Javanese → asu

Kalmyk → noha

Kannada → nay

Karachay-Balkar → it

Karelian → koiru

Kawi → asu

Kazakh → it

Kikuyu → gui

Klingon → targh

Kobon (Papua) → kain

Komi-Permyak → pon

Kongo → mbwa

Korean → gae

Kuna → achu

Kunza → locma

Kurdish → seg, fendo, kelb, kûçik

Kyrgyz → it

Láadan → lanemid

Lampung → kuyuk

Lao → ma

Lapp → beana

Latin → canis

Latvian → suns

Leonese → perru

Ligurian → can

Lingala → mbwa

Lithuanian → suo, sunis

Loglan → kangu

Lojban → gerku

Luxemburgian → Hond

Macedonian → kuche, pes

Madurese → pate

Malayalam → pa tti

Malagasy → alika

Malay → anjing

Maltese → kelb

Manchu → indahon

Mandinka → wulo

Manx → moddey

Mapuche → trewa

Masai → ol-dia

Micmac → lmuj

Mohawk → erhar

Mongolian → noqai, nohoj

Mordovian → pine

Morisyen → lesyen

Mundari → seta

Nahuatl → chichi, itzcuintli

Nanay → enda

Navajo → lha-cha-eh

Nepali → kukur

Nggela → kau

Nicobarese (Car) → am

Nivkh → qan

Norwegian → hund

Ojibwe → animosh

Old High German → hunt

Old Norse → hundr

Oromo → saree

Ossetic → kuidz

Pahlavi → sag

Panjabi → kutta

Papago-Pima → gogs

Papiamento → kacho

Pashto → spay

Persian, Farsi → sag

Phoenician → klb

Pidgin → dok

Pig Latin → ogday

Pilipino → áso

Polish → pies

Portuguese → cão, cachorros

Pulaar → rawaandu

Purépecha: wíchu

Pushtu → spay

Quechua (Ancash) → allqu

Rapanui → paihenga

Romanian → cîine

Romansch → chaun

Romany → zhukel, rikono (means puppy)

Rotuman → kami

Roviana → siki

Ruanda → inbwa

Russian → sobaka (cobaka)

Samoan → maile

Sanskrit → svan

Sardinian (Logudorese dialect) → cane

Sardinian (Campidanese dialect) → cani

Scottish → cù

Sepedi → mpaa

Serbian → pas

Shelknam → wulan

Shona → imbwa´

Sicilian → cani

Sinhala → balla

Slovak → pes

Slovene → pes

Somali → eey

Sorbian, Wendish, Upper Lusatian → pos, psyk

Sotho, Northern → mpsha

Sotho, Southern; Sesotho, Sesuto → ntsa

Spanish → perro

Sranan → dagu

Sumerian → ur

Sudanese → anjing

Swahili → mbwa

Swazi → inja

Swedish → hund

Swiss German → Hund

Tagalog (Filipino) → áso

Tahitian → uri

Taino → aon

Taiwanese → kao, kaw´ ar

Tajik → sag

Tamil → nay

Tarahumara → kochi

Tatar → et

Tetum → asu

Tigrinya → kalbi

Thai → mah, soonahk

Tibetan → khyi

Tlingit → kyetl

Tocharian → ku

Tongan → kuli

Tswana → ntsa

Turkish → köpek

Turkmen → it

Tuvan → yt

Twi, Akan → okeraman

Tzeltal: tz'i'

Udmurt (Votyak) → puny

Ugaritic → kaalbu

Ukrainian → sobaka, pes

Urdu → kutta

Uzbek → it

Venda → mmbwa

Vietnamese → chó

Vogulic → amp

Volapük → dog

Warlpiri → maliki

Welsh → ci (key)

Wolio → mantoa

Wolof → hatch, xaj

Xhosa → inja

Yakut → yt

Yiddish → kelef, hunt

Yoeme → chuu'u

Yoruba → aja

Yucatec → pek´

Yukagir → mane

Yup'ik → qimugta

Yurak → men

Zapotec → bicu

Zarma → hansi

Zulu → inja

For a list of how dogs bark in more than 60 languages click here.

Stanley Coren is the author of many books including: Born to Bark, Do Dogs Dream? The Modern Dog, Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses? The Pawprints of History, How Dogs Think, How To Speak Dog, Why We Love the Dogs We Do, What Do Dogs Know? The Intelligence of Dogs, Why Does My Dog Act That Way? Understanding Dogs for Dummies, Sleep Thieves, The Left-hander Syndrome

Copyright SC Psychological Enterprises Ltd. May not be reprinted or reposted without permission

 

Stanley Coren, Ph.D., F.R.S.C., is a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia.

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