Talking Animals

Doctor Dolittle – and I’m speaking about he of the Hugh Lofting books, not the unwatchable Eddie Murphy – spoke to the animals. He understood their language. Today I gained a greater understanding of how Bosnian animal differ from their English-speaking counterparts when it comes to their most famous phrases. English cats ‘meow’. Cats in Mostar, of which there are many, can be heard to ‘mijau’. Like several Bosnian words we’ve found this is basically a phonetic transliteration. ‘Džem’ is a favourite example. ‘Šorc’ is another. Yes, ‘jam’ and ‘shorts’ respectively.

Back to the animals, it seems that baring the transliteration cats and horses, and ducks and cows speak the same language – and rabbits don’t speak at all! But the surprising difference is dogs. My English-speaking audience will know that when a dog barks they say ‘woof woof’. Perhaps it’s the lack of a ‘w’ in the Bosnian alphabet; perhaps it’s their Balkan temperament, but when a dog here bares his teeth to make some noise they are shouting ‘av av’! I wonder if the Doctor would understand them?


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