It is of some interest that sounds produced by the same kind of animal are. frequently represented by quite different sound groups in different languages. For instance, English dogs bark (cf. the R. лаять) or howl (cf. the R. выть). The English cock cries cock-a-doodle-doo (cf. the R. ку-ка-ре-ку). In England ducks quack and frogs croak (cf. the R. крякать said about ducks and квакать said about frogs). It is only English and Russian cats who seem capable of mutual understanding when they meet, for English cats mew or miaow (meow). The same can be said about cows: they moo (but also low).
Some names of animals and especially of birds and insects are also produced by sound-imitation: crow, cuckoo, humming-bird, whip-poor-will, cricket.
The following desperate letter contains a great number of sound-imitation words reproducing sounds made by modern machinery:
The Baltimore & Ohio R. R. Co.,
Why is it that your switch engine has to ding and fizz and spit and pant and grate and grind and puff and bump and chug and hoot and toot and whistle and wheeze and howl and clang and growl and thump and clash and boom and jolt and screech and snarl and snort and slam and throb and soar and rattle and hiss and yell and smoke and shriek all night long when I come home from a hard day at the boiler works and have to keep the dog quiet and the baby quiet so my wife can squawk at me for snoring in my sleep?
(From Language and Humour by G. G. Pocheptsov.)
There is a hypothesis that sound-imitation as a way of word-formation should be viewed as something much wider than just the production of words by the imitation of