Spanish Translation Blog: Spanish Translation US » Blog Archive Don’t Bark Up The Wrong Tree

Don’t Bark Up The Wrong Tree

Truth is, I never even liked cats. They’re slick and independent, which I do admire, but that doesn’t always favor humans, if you ask me. I mean, isn’t a pet supposed to be there for you, join you, defend you, cheer you up and give you all the unconditional love? Isn’t a pet supposed to just welcome you when you get home with a whole joy fest in your honor? Cats don’t give a damn and if you make them angry they jump and scratch you too.

Yeah, well, not hard to guess: I’m definitely a dog person. And my dog is the best in the whole world, and I swear that’s the truth and nothing but the truth. He drools a lot, I know, but what a continuous love gift he is! It’s all about me, if you ask him. He gives me attention, affection and safety in exchange for food, short walks and some petting. He asks for so little and gives so much! Yup, no secret at all: dogs rule and cats… meow.

Speaking of which, there’s only a slight catch to it. Apparently, cats speak more of an international dialect, since they “meow” in English, they “miau” in Spanish, they “miao” in Italian and they pretty much do the same in many different languages. As for dogs, let’s face it: they “woof” in English, they “guau” in Spanish, and they “ouaf” in French! Who understands them?

The other day I translated this very short story that involved a dog and a little boy and while doing so, I didn’t realize that “woof” was not OK when passing from English to Spanish. My coworker, native Spanish speaker and with practically zero knowledge of English, read it and asked me what that word that repeated itself was. He couldn’t stop laughing when I naturally said it meant “guau” and I thought that was obvious.

So, whenever y’all try to translate an onomatopoeia, such as the sound of an animal, a baby, a door or a shot… make sure you get the right word in the target language. There are no obvious sounds.

In the meantime, no worries: you don’t need an interpreter to communicate with your dog. They understand us, no matter in what language we talk to them. Cats… I’m not so sure!

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