Margaret Thatcher, 1925.
There is much to be learned from a single animal actually. The cock, for instance makes undoubtedly exactly the same sound all over Europe when he crows. But surprisingly European people do not hear the same onomatopoeia as they listen to him, and consequently do not translate it the same way in letters. This constitutes the funny list above with every European cockcrow, accompanied by some explanations on the importance of this animal in every country. If you want to hear the pronunciation of each one, just discover the video presented by the European Parliament for his open house.
In the country where the rooster is a national symbol representing wisdom, the cockcrow is transcribed as “cocorococo”. The Rooster of Barcelos is one of the most common emblems of Portugal and originates from the legend which tells the story of a dead rooster’s miraculous intervention in proving the innocence of a man who had been falsely accused and sentenced to death.
There are no less than 25 different races of cockerels in Spain, where the word “quiquiriqui” is also used to describe somebody who struts around. During the Spanish Civil War, the Republicans fascists used a black cockerel that crowed during the night. They sang the song “The black rooster” which was also recorded by the Chilean protest singer Victor Jara as a protest against the military dictatorship in Chile.
The Gallic rooster (“coq gaulois”) is an unofficial national symbol of France. It comes from a play on words in Latin between Gallus, meaning an inhabitant of Gaul, and gallus, meaning rooster. As contrary to Marianne, who embodies France as a Republic State, the Gallic rooster represents France as a nation. That’s why the word “cocorico” is sometimes used in France to depict a patriotic performance.
The Icelandic cock seems to have on the island a more warrior crow. The transcription “Gaggalagaggalagó” would be on the continent more an onomatopoeia to signify that the weather is cold, wouldn’t it?
“Cock a doodle doo”, the transcription of the cockcrow in Ireland, has inspired the best play of the Irish dramatist Seán O’Casey in 1949 called Cock-a-Doodle Dandy. This is a darkly comic fantasy in which a magic cockerel appears in the parish of Nyadnanave and forces the characters to make choices about the way they live their lives.
The origin of the English “Cock a doodle doo” can be found in a popular nursery rhyme whose first full version recorded was in Mother Goose’s Melody, published in London around 1765. The first two lines were used in a murder pamphlet in England, 1606, which seems to suggest that children sang those lines, or very similar ones, to mock cockerels crow.
In Norway, where cockerel crows sounds like “Kukkeliky”, the word cockerel (“hane”) is also used as slang in some cases for a man, usually the man in a love relationship.
A 1938 short film of the Silly Symhonies, entitled in English the Farmyard Symphony, was translated as Kuckeliku in Sweden.
In Finland, there used to be in the 1960s a music band called Kukonpojat (“The Chikens”). The music is quite funny if you want to listen to it, click here. The history doesn’t tell if they intend to write a song on the “Kukkokeikuu” cockcrow.
Danes have several sayings about the cockerel, such as “Jeg har en høne at plukke med dig” meaning “I have a bone to pick with you”. Another common sentence, “en fjer kan blive til fem høns” means “a feather can become five hens” and comes from one of Hans Andersen’s fairy tale ” There Is No Doubt About It!” and means that a story can quickly turn into a longer lie.
A Dutch children’s song is called “De haan is dood”(“the han is dead”) with a “Kukeleku” refrain . The band singing is named Spitfires, and it’s quite funny. And if you want to see the funny dance of two little Dutch girls, click here.
Coutcouloudjoû – Kukeleku
The “coq hardi” (bold rooster) is an emblem of the Wallon region in Beligum. It features a red bold rooster, bold meaning its right leg is lifted and its mouth is closed, on a yellow background. Those colors come from the city of Liège. It was chosen in 1913 by Pierre Paulus to appear on the flag of Wallonia.
The cockerel is a sacred bird among some Germanic peoples. There is for instance in Münster a golden sculpture of a cockerel, presumably created around 1600 in Nürnberg. It holds a little more than a bottle of wine and is proffered to important guests of the city as an honorary goblet. Legend has it that once a Münster councillor donated the golden cockerel after his cockerel, flying into the air, made it clear to the beleaguers of the city under Prince-Bishop Christoph Bernhard von Galen that it was pointless to wait for the onset of famine.
Kikeriki – Cocorico – Chicchirichi
In Switzerland, the cockerel sings in three different languages, as the inhabitants of the country do. Airesis, a Swiss company bought in 2005 the French famous sport equipment company “le Coq Sportif” whose logo is a cockerel.
Italians have many (funny) proverbs about roosters. “Gallo magro e gallina grassa fan buon matrimonio” signifies “Fat cockerel and fat hen match good together”. Or “Quando il gallo canta nel pollaio, aspetta l’acqua nel grondaio” which means “When the cock crows in the henhouse, he is waiting for the water in the gutters”
For French readers, the Maltese cockcrow “kukuriku” may make you think of the famous parody tunes “stach stach” by the Bratisla Boys.
In Austria, the famous composer Josef Haydn wrote in 1785 the Symphony No. 83,the second of the six so-called Paris Symphonies. This symphony was popularized through the name “The Hen” (in French: “La poule”). The nickname comes from the clucking second subject in the first movement, which reminded listeners of the jerky back-and forth head motion of a walking hen
In the town of Česká Třebová in Czech Republic, in old time, a magistrate had the misfortune to lose the seal of the city. Angry residents agreed to hang him. The gallows was erected and the priest accompanied the condemned man to death. Until a cockerel began to crow and scratch the dunghill on which he stood, revealing thus the lost seal. Since that time, the cockerel appears on the emblem of the city.
The slovakian rooster tends to crow with vowels. A song entitled “O pozdravoch” by Jozef Hudák enumerates the sounds each animal do in Slovakia, including the cockerel.
The Polish writer Mary Kownacki wrote in 1936 a book which collected 14 short stories for children dealing in a funny way with personal hygiene, respect, obedience, or everyday problems. It was entitled “Kukuryku na ręczniku” (Kukuryku on a towel) and a cockerel appeared on the front page of each edition.
The cockerel is present in many art representations in Hungary. Its crow is transcribed with the word “kukuriku”.
The Lithuanian cockcrow is transcribed as “Kakariekū”. It is actually a quite funny sound, more vocal.
Just as in Lithuanian, where roosters crow with a vocal sound, the cockerel crows in Latvia with a long and expressive “Kikerigū”.
In Estonia, the cockerel’s crow is a bit different “Kikerikii”. The cockcrow “Kikerikii” inspired in Estonia the name of a TV movie in 1982.
In Belarusian folklore, the rooster is a heroic character, and comes to protect weak people. It crows with a sound like “Ку-ка-ре-ку”
There are in Ukraine several cultural productions using the symbol of a rooster. There is for example a children song entitled “The Rooster Is Riding the Horse”, or the grunge/art-rock band formed in 1989 and named the “Dead Rooster”, or eventually a fairy tale entitled “The Cat and the Cock”.
Moldova & Romania
In Moldova and Romania, the roosters tend to crow with more vowels. There is in Romania a radio named “Cucurigu radio”.
The Slovenian word “Kikiriki” for cockcrow has a totally different meaning in its neighbor’s language. In Serbia and Croatia, it means “peanut”, the word coming etymologically from the Italian chichi (“grains”) and ricchi (“rich”).
The Croatian “Kukuriku koalicija“(in English “cock-a-doodle-doo coalition“) is a political alliance formed after the election of 2010. It consists of four centre-left partis in the Parliament : Social Democratic Party of Croatia, Croatian People’s Party – Liberal Democrats, Istrian Democratic Assembly, and Croatian Party of Pensioners. The name was taken from a restaurant of the same name in Kastav, where they first convened in July 2009,became well known, and eventually became the coalition’s official name
Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Bosnian word for the cockcrow “Kukuriky” is surprisingly also a small village located in eastern Poland, closed to the border with Belarus.
In Serbia, the cockcrow is transcribed with the word “Kukuriky”. The cockerel does not crow like it’s neighbors !
The Macedonian cockerel is just a bit different from the Serbian one. Its crow changes a bit at the end.
Kiki ri ki
In Albania, the cock just crow with a high-pitched voice. Let’s try to investigate why it crows like that…
The Bulgarian cockcrow is transcribed as “кукурику”. It remains a bit different to the crows of its neighbors…
In the Greek mythology, Asclepius was the God of Medecine and Healing. The cockerel was one of his traditional attribute, along with the snake. It appears at the end of the Plato’s apology.
At the time of the Ottoman Empire, one of the laws of the kânûn established by Mehmed II (the conqueror of Constantinople), strictly stated that “it [was] forbidden to raise chickens in a mill so that the wheat germ do not suffer damage. We keep no more than a cock to indicate the hours”.
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