… moo. At least, she does if you live in the U.S.A. or other English-speaking nations. Parahs in Israel can easily communicate in Hebrew, as they also say moo. If you live in France, your Vache says Meuh; in Japan, the Ushi says mo-mo, and her cousin the Ghwaa in Afghanistan says moo-moo. The German Kuh prefers to say simply: mu. No matter how you spell the word, cows speak a pretty universal language.
Learning this was actually a happy accident for me – a teachable moment I earned myself when I was researching cows and their related objects for a collections presentation. Cows are readily recognized by children – even those just beginning to recognize animal names and noises know cows say “moo”. I thought it would be fun to present each cow object with its native name and voice.
Cattle are an important animal in many cultures: they provide meat, milk, and hides; they help farmers pull plows and fertilize fields; they signify wealth and status. They are also common mascots, stuffed animals, cartoon characters, and spokespeople – er – spokesanimals. They can convey so much with only a single phoneme.
So the next time you see a cow, don’t worry that she might be foreign. Just tell her “moo”; she’ll know what you mean.