At the elementary schools, we have recently wrapped up our lessons on animal sounds.
It is a very fun series of lessons involving lots of games, pretending to be animals, and making all the (silly) sounds that animals make in English.
Many of the animals make sounds similar to those made in Japan: Cows say “moo” instead of “mo” and cats say “meow” rather than “nya”. However, everyone starts scratching their head when it comes to what frogs say. In Japanese frogs say “kero” or “gero” so why in the world do frogs say “ribbit” in English?!
I’m from Michigan and spent a lot of time in Maine during the summers, so when I think of frogs, I think of big old bullfrogs. If you’ve ever listened to a bullfrog, it would be hard to convince someone that they were saying “ribbit”. But despite never having heard a frog actually say “ribbit”, it has been ingrained into me that this is what a frog says.
Well, as it turns out, there is a frog that actually says “ribbit” and it is from North America. More specifically, it is from the West Coast stretching from California all the way into Canada. The frog is called the North Pacific Treefrog, and as far as I can find, it is the only frog in the world that says “ribbit.” This is the type of frog that can be found near Hollywood, so it has been used in movies and TV shows since the early days of sound films. Now, all over the English world, frogs say “ribbit.”
Note from the author: Walk by the rice paddies in Iwate and you may notice that none of the frogs really say “kero”. If anyone knows what species of frog says “kero”, leave me a message because I would love to know!
Written by Christine Takisawa
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